Smart meters represent a fork in the road for energy suppliers, reports experience design consultancy Foolproof in a new whitepaper: engage with customers now and build value-added experiences that re-energise the supplier-consumer relationship, or do nothing and run the risk of third parties exploiting customer data and further eroding brand loyalty.

A new paper released by Foolproof today reports findings from consumer research conducted with UK energy consumers. The research explores potential applications of smart meters, and the opportunities this rich data source could create beyond basic energy consumption monitoring. A number of scenarios were presented to consumers in focus groups to explore their potential impact.

Foolproof observed that customers currently see little or no value in the relationship with their energy supplier. They also feel little engagement with, or responsibility for, impending problems with supply and higher prices. Smart meters are to be installed in every UK home between now and 2020. But when they arrive, consumers will expect free access and portability of what they consider to be ‘their’ data.

This presents a challenge for the industry, say Foolproof. Energy suppliers need to think and act now about how they will use smart meter data to strengthen and deepen customer relationships using the clues in this report. To do this, supply companies need to quickly promote customer experience to being a senior discipline.

Tom Wood, a partner at Foolproof, comments: “This paper shines a torch into the darker corners of this important new area. On the one hand smart meters could be used to build value and loyalty by offering value-added services driven by consumption data. On the other hand, smart meter data could allow third parties to intrude into the customer-supplier relationship and further erode value."

“It strikes us that while the industry gears up for the operational challenge of getting smart meters installed into UK homes, very few suppliers seem to be thinking through the relationship implications: where’s the customer in all of this?”

White paper: Smart meters the customer's view

Published on: 12:19PM on 10th June 2010