Speeding up smart meter installation
Energy companies will likely appreciate the extra time the UK government has allowed for its smart meter rollout. However, it’s still crucial that companies make the installation process as simple and streamlined as possible to ensure that they meet the deadline, regardless of the extra time provided by the delay. So far, the rollout is going well: 81% of UK consumers are satisfied with how their smart meter installation was handled. Therefore, energy companies must maintain this high standard by offering quality customer service and a straightforward booking system. Although these are less technical aspects of installation, they’re crucial to ensuring the 2025 deadline is met. This article will look at what energy companies can do to speed up smart meter installations, focusing on the role customer service can play. We’ll look at how to help customers navigate installations, and how to make customers feel comfortable reaching out for support.
Promoting smart meter installation
To popularise smart meters and ensure that the government reaches its target, energy companies need to work on people’s awareness of smart meters. A core part of this kind of awareness programme is informing customers of the benefits of smart meters, and how they can arrange for an installation. Energy companies should ensure that they use all potential avenues to promote smart meter installation. Specifically, the customer service experience can be leveraged to promote smart meter benefits. For example, one benefit of smart meters is more accurate bills. By training service agents to suggest smart meters as a solution to inaccurate bills, you can encourage customers to book installations. The same agent that offered the solution can even book an appointment, further speeding up the installation process.
How to help customers navigate their smart meter installation
1. Encourage customers to get in touch
Energy companies need to make sure customers are aware of the communication channels they can use to access support and book installations. Awareness is of particular importance as smart meter installation may not be a priority for customers. An important part of promotion is deciding where resources should be focused. Social media or online support is important, but it’s crucial that customers know how to get help over the phone as well. Phone-based customer support agents are essential to a smooth smart meter installation process, as they can provide more in-depth information than an automated solution.
2. Make scheduling (and rescheduling) easy
To ensure rollout targets are met, customers need to be able to schedule their installation easily. Energy companies should strive to create an appointment booking process that makes the installation as convenient as possible – offer the option to book over the phone and online, so customers have maximum choice and flexibility. Energy companies may also want to invest resources in growing their support teams to make scheduling even easier. It’s crucial to have a workforce large enough that customers needing to book appointments won’t get stuck waiting in call queues. As a final touch, energy companies should make sure that it is just as easy for customers to reschedule installation appointments. A customer who has to cancel their initial appointment through no fault of their own must be able to make a new one without hassle — options like callbacks or automatic rescheduling can help with this. Reorganising appointments efficiently also saves energy suppliers money too, as it means money spent preparing for an installation is not wasted.
3. Make your service team into specialists
The nature of the technology in a standard smart meter, and the network connection it has with with energy suppliers, means customer service agents will require some level of technical expertise before they know exactly how to help customers. While customer service representatives should primarily focus on booking installations, it’s a good idea to factor some technical information on smart meters into onboarding training, so your team can provide troubleshooting options. It’s also wise to foster a strong relationship between the customer service team and engineers, so service agents have someone to consult for expert advice.
Ensuring customers are supported
We’ve mentioned that energy companies need to ensure they’re easily contacted, make scheduling quick and easy, and ensure their representatives have a good understanding of what smart meters do. But how can companies achieve these objectives? While training existing staff helps improve their technical knowledge, it doesn’t help companies deal with large call volumes. Smart meter calls are likely to multiply as meeting the 2025 deadline becomes more urgent, and companies begin pushing for more customers to book installations. Outsourcing is potentially a more effective solution, as it allows companies to access large numbers of well-trained customer service agents quickly. By scaling up with outsourcing, energy companies can handle a larger volume of smart meter calls. Digital solutions, like FAQs and online databases, can also help streamline smart meter installations. Offering these options is vital to improving customer satisfaction, as 67% of customers say they prefer self-service solutions. However, human employees are essential to support more complex issues, like difficulties during smart meter installation which the customer cannot solve themselves. So, while customers should be offered online solutions, there will always be a need for human staff to assist customers with installations.
Improving your customer experience with Sigma Connected
Sigma Connected can provide access to large numbers of competent agents much faster than energy companies acquire through a traditional recruitment process. Our staff can help make appointments and support commissioning to ensure your company can handle a large influx of smart meter installations. If you’re interested in the services Sigma Connected can provide, get in touch.