Mercury Mobile app

A technology solution that reinforces brand strategy, engages customers and drives loyalty.

Project details


  • Mercury




  • Utility

Type of work

The challenge

New Zealand has just about the most competitive energy retail market in the world.

Customer engagement and retention really are the name of the game when you’re up against 40+ other retailers, and annualised market churn rates that often track above 20%.

But how do you genuinely engage customers when the product you’re selling is an invisible commodity that they pay for once a month?

Most energy apps do the same core things - they allow you to check your usage, view your bill, and make a payment. The Mercury app would need to do these basic things well, but offer customers so much more.

In 2016, Mercury launched a brand platform that was all about making energy wonderful for customers. This was the inspiration to do something different with their app. Something that would surprise and delight customers, create talkability and shareability, and bring this ambitious brand promise to life...

The solution

The core engagement idea was a value exchange. The more customers engaged with the app, the more they would get in return. So we developed a reward currency, Mercury Dollars, that customers could earn by completing a series of ongoing challenges.

The first few challenge types were very deliberately designed to achieve specific engagement outcomes:

Earn rewards for building your profile. These were simple actions like taking a profile pic that customers could complete immediately and easily. This was all about showcasing the value exchange concept in the first interaction.

Earn rewards for referring friends to join Mercury. This was about offering customers material value ($50 – $100) in return for them winning a customer on Mercury’s behalf.

Earn rewards for completing step challenges. This was the innovative, talk-able idea. Mercury had developed a powerful brand narrative around e.transport so rewarding people for walking was a natural extension of this. We hooked into the health kits on Android and Apple devices and were able to show customers, in real time, how many steps they’d taken on the way to completing time bound challenges.

As customers earned Mercury Dollars through these actions, the dollars flowed into a virtual lake, reinforcing Mercury’s hydro generation story, for them to redeem as bill discounts or Airpoints Dollars.

We made the redemption process gratifying for customers too, allowing them to drag their lake level down to redeem their hard earned currency for their chosen reward.

Over time we’ve added in other challenge types—like question challenges and prize draw entries—to broaden the appeal and keep customers engaged. This is a rewards platform that can continue to grow and evolve.

The core billing and usage content has evolved over time too and customers can now get a daily view of their usage (with hourly increments), giving them another reason to engage with the app regularly.

On the technology side, the app was built natively on iOS and Android, and it connects directly into Mercury’s core systems, enabling instant authentication and data presentment. We managed to create a seamless real-time experience, built on a number of legacy systems, that weren’t so... real-time.

The results

The app is Mercury’s fastest growing customer engagement channel—they now have more customers logging into the app than calling the contact centre each month.

Every month we’re recording over 1.8 million token refreshes, for customers who are logging into the App, from a customer base of 250k.

Since the app was launched, Mercury customers have recorded over 5 billion steps through completed step challenges—that’s 7,142,000 KMs or over 178 times around the planet!

The App is the most preferred way for Mercury customers to engage with the brand. In early 2021, an in-App NPS survey yielded a result of 62—an outstanding NPS score and the best of any of Mercury’s engagement channels.

According to relationship survey results, customers who have downloaded and use the App are significantly less likely to become detractors.

Mercury’s Head of Customer Engagement, Mohammed Abbas, says “We wanted to make it easy for customers to self-serve through the app—check their usage, pay their bills, and do all of the important things—but we also wanted to inspire them to interact with us more often through the challenges.”

“Our goal is to be the leading energy brand in New Zealand, and to achieve that goal we need to design experiences that customers love. The app is a way for us to get customers thinking about Mercury when they’re doing fun things like exercise, and get rewarded for their efforts.”

Our team continues to partner with Mercury’s internal product owners on a prioritised roadmap of continuous improvements, with monthly release cycles.