Most electricity companies that have installed smart meters have created customer portals in an attempt to make information more accessible. Users can download Excel spreadsheets containing monthly data, but these datasets are far too broad and difficult for the average consumer to comprehend. They’ve been assembled according to electricity executives’ preferences and not through the eyes of an inexperienced energy consumer.
In order for customers to better understand their energy usage, they need to feel as though their utility company is helping them and not assigning them data-centric homework. No one has the time or desire to go through these electricity consumption graphs, and companies find the most success when they turn this information into easily digestible tools, tips, and programs.
Here are three great ways utility companies can use smart meter data to improve the customer experience:
- Time of Use Pricing Programs and tools
These programs already exist at many utility companies, but they are poorly implemented and communicated. Customers need to know about peak-hour energy pricing, be provided with ample tools to track their usage, and have an incentive to cut back during those times. For example, try creating a point system that gamifies energy conservation where customers gain points when they use more electricity during low-demand times. Once smart meters are able to pick up on extreme amounts of energy usage in real time, clients should receive a text message that says, “You’re using a lot of energy right now, try these things to cut back.”
- Go Beyond Graphs
Even the most detailed and helpful graphs will cause the average customer’s eyes to glaze over. A massive amount of raw data collection is a major perk of smart meters, but the true value is in how the data can be used to engage customers.
Present the data within a framework they can relate to. Directly show them how their consumption habits impact their bank accounts and lives as a whole. Show them what they can do to improve and how much money they can save.
- Connect More Than Just the Meter
We continuously interview our utility partner’s customers to better understand and improve the experiences we build. The number one request is to include more device types and manufacturers in our list of compatible connected devices.
Once you engage your customers, you will create a demand for more control. Giving customers the ability to control their thermostat, water heater, or lights not only increases their engagement with you, it increases your ability to implement successful demand response or time of use pricing programs. One portal, where customers can control their devices and understand their impact on their overall energy bill is exactly what customers are asking for. There is a network effect to connected devices – the more devices that are connected and interoperable, the more likely customers will want more devices to connect and control. Start with the smart meter and enable your customers to grow from there.