Smart Metering at Electric Ireland
Over 2.2m Smart Meters will be installed across Ireland by 2024 and one of the biggest lessons learned from other international rollouts of Smart meters has been a lack of consideration for the customer perspective and how customers will use and get benefit from Smart Meters. This is a key challenge for utilities across the world including Electric Ireland and its customers as the Smart Metering programme rolls out.
To put the customer first, Electric Ireland needed to explore with them what products and services they would like from their supplier once their smart meter was installed. Electricity is traditionally a low-engagement industry when it comes to customers and it’s difficult to differentiate brands in a low-interest category. Could Smart Meters be the answer to our customers’ frustrations?
Electric Ireland established its Smart Metering Programme in 2018 with a strong focus on the customer from the beginning. Research was undertaken from over 1,000 electricity customers to identify key frustrations they had with their electricity providers. To understand Electric Ireland customers’ motivations further the customer base was segmented into 14 segments representing all households in Ireland and mapped to the database via geo directories. This provided further insight into customers, their key motivations, their level of digital knowledge and their interest in renewable offerings and technology.
Forty eight customers from eight segments were selected as a representative sample who would be most receptive to Smart Meter products and services. From the eight segments five key customer personas were developed to best represent target customers in order to gauge their appetite for specific products and services that will be enabled by Smart Meters. The unique customer journey was mapped for each customer persona to describe their unique customer experience including the pain-points in their journeys. Based on this feedback we incorporated the customer experience into the design of Smart Meter processes in Electric Ireland and changed how we build our products and services based on customer needs and the customer journey.
For the first time Electric Ireland has now segmented its customer base and created personas of our customers that can be identified. The new process that was designed started with the customer insight and maintained that customer centric focus throughout the build. Electric Ireland looked to other countries to understand what the most valued smart services were for customers and learned that the service that customers valued most was insight into their electricity; what was driving their consumption and when, knowing what they could do to control their usage and reduce the bills.
This customer first approach will allow Electric Ireland to tailor and deliver new personalised products and services to its customers based on their specific requirements and to anticipate new industry trends and demands. Developing a customer-centric experience requires agility; start with the customer, refine what you know, sense check with the business experts, go back to customers, develop new products based on customer insight and test with customers. It cannot be carried out in isolation and requires a considerable amount of collaboration with every customer-facing team in the business. Through ongoing consultation with customers, we have built cutting-edge products and services that speak directly to customers’ needs.