On 26 February I will present to the National Power Conference (give these guys your contact details at your own risk – you will be flooded with unwanted conference and event invites) during the “Billing and Smart Metering Stream”. A brief synopsis of what I intend to present follows.
Power to the people!
Energy retailing is a world dominated by crusty utilities operating at glacial pace and with a fetish for complexity and jargon.
Designed and built by engineers, bastardised by economists and muddled by marketers, the industry continues to deliver one of the most successful consumer confusion programmes of all time. While “customer centricity programmes” have improved service levels, the fact remains that power companies systemically make even smart people feel dumb. Left to its own devices, smart metering will allow power companies to exponentially accelerate these consumer confusion programmes.
Customers do not currently engage with their electricity usage or spending, not because they don’t want to, but because they do not know how. Their meters are cobweb ridden alien objects that destroy the architectural prowess of their homes to give their power company comfort that they are not nicking power, bills contain more numbers than the Harihari phone book and everything is all too difficult.
Customers’ engagement with electricity as a product must be made much simpler, much more understandable and much easier. The feedback loop between usage and purchase must be closed long before smart meters can deliver true value to customers.
Smart metering as a technology is not a panacea. It will not solve the basic woes that lead to customer dis-engagement. It is smart customers that will deliver any change in behaviour – to the benefit of themselves and wider the power system. Fortunately for the industry, behind every meter is a smart customer. It is up to the industry to stop introducing confusion into customers’ decision-making processes. It is up to the industry to deliver information, and products and services that will allow customers to make informed decisions about electricity. Smart meter based products designed poorly will deliver more confusion – smart meter based products designed well will integrate into and enhance well-engineered products and services with truly engaged customers.
Powershop intends to deliver an information rich experience that will provide choice and control to customers using the internet as its primary service channel. Key features of this service will be presented and discussed at the conference.