Are smart meters the solution to the energy crisis today?
The UK government aims to install a smart meter in every UK household by 2025. According to the latest government figures, over 27.8 million smart or advanced metering systems have been installed so far.
The smart meter rollout scheme was started in 2016 but stalled throughout 2020 due to pandemic restrictions. In 2021, energy companies strived to get back on track, and installation appointments rose 19% from the previous year.
These figures suggest that more and more people are becoming aware of their environmental impact, looking into smart meters to keep track and save on their energy bills.
High levels of consumer demand mean that energy companies need to build experienced customer service teams to process the significant uptick in smart meter enquiries. The greater the trust established by swift installing during the smart meter rollout, the better-equipped consumers will be to manage the rising costs of the energy crisis today.
This post will look at how energy suppliers can deliver quality customer support during the smart meter rollout.
What are some of the challenges posed by the smart meter rollout?
Energy companies need to install an average of 20,000 smart meters daily to reach the UK goal. With the deadline just a few short years away, energy firms face substantial logistical challenges in managing the smart meter rollout.
Customers can wait until their supplier gets in touch to offer them a smart meter, or they can request one from their provider. Consequently, the first major challenge for energy companies is handling backlogs of smart meter installation enquiries from people looking to opt-in.
Then there is the added pitfall of people missing their engineer appointments, resulting in energy companies losing money on engineer call-out costs.
As beneficial as smart meters can be in monitoring energy usage, consumer distrust surrounding the rollout itself can cause delays to the smart meter rollout. For instance, British Gas revealed that they suffered a glitch in their smart meter tracking earlier this year.
It’s worth noting that the affected meters still collected accurate readings. However, many customers could not check their own consumption levels online. Negative news stories like this and the fact that energy prices have risen dramatically over the last year may make people hesitant to install a smart meter.
To overcome the obstacles getting in the way of the smart meter rollout, energy companies must gather the right teams to offer outstanding customer service support in the run-up to the 2025 deadline.
How expert advisors can help energy customers make the switch to smart meters
Energy firms are ramping up their efforts to engage customers in the smart meter rollout. Customer service advisors with the right skills in handling energy customer enquiries are perfectly poised to help the national campaign run smoothly.
Some of the benefits of working with experienced customer service representatives include:
1. Providing omnichannel support for smart meter appointment bookings
Energy companies must be proactive in encouraging people to make smart meter appointments. Customer experience teams should prioritise multichannel communication, reaching out to as many people as possible to encourage them to adopt smart meter technology.
Customer contact agents from services like Sigma Connected can handle inbound and outbound inquiries across multiple communication channels. Support teams can help customers book smart meter installation appointments via telephone, email, or online forms. They can then process appointment information directly through your CRM systems.
2. Recommissioning old smart meters
Like all technology, smart meters are not infallible. Maintenance is an important part of keeping consumers happy and building trust in an unfamiliar, but much better, system for tracking energy usage. Approximately 15% of smart meters are not functioning correctly. However, support teams at Sigma Connected use omnichannel diallers and meter operator job booking systems to facilitate faster smart meter repairs and commissioning. These tools streamline costs by enabling energy companies to work with customers one-on-one to get their smart meter working again.
Putting the right CRM tools in place, as well as the right advice teams, can help energy customers resolve a range of smart meter problems including;
- Installation issues
- Recommissioning meters
- Replacing smart meter batteries
- In-Home Display (IHD) errors
- Managing engineer appointments if required.
3. Engaging with hard-to-reach customers during the energy crisis today
Some energy firms are experiencing difficulties reconnecting with customers that have previously signed up for a smart meter. For example, some people may be financially vulnerable and hesitant to get in touch for fear of reprisal for late payment of their energy bills, or other financial reasons.
Energy companies can benefit from hiring independent third-party agents to contact customers directly. Read our previous article to learn more about how Sigma Connected offers individualised advice to vulnerable people.
Sigma Connected delivers the very best in outsourcing customer service roles
The smart meter rollout is a positive step towards making UK households more energy-efficient, but it also comes with unique challenges. From recommissioning faulty meters to connecting with customers facing financial difficulties, energy companies must be prepared to deliver a plethora of specialised customer service skills to make the rollout a success.
Sigma Connected offers end-to-end customer service solutions tailored to the demands of the energy sector.
Our teams can handle everything from technical queries to making installation appointments. We strive to exceed our clients’ expectations and integrate our customer service teams with your existing working processes and customer service agents.
Contact us today and learn more about how we can help energy companies reach more customers in need.