Woman sitting in a cafe with smartphone and laptop - Customer Satisfaction through Self Meter Reading

How to boost Energy and Utility Customer Satisfaction with Self Meter Reading

Krisztina Orosz

Chief Experience Officer at Anyline

Aug 10, 2022

Your customers want more. They expect better, and more integrated services, and the onus is on energy vendors and providers to provide them. But it’s not just about pleasing customers: it’s also about company growth.

report by McKinsey & Company calculated the value of investing in the customer experience, particularly during an economic downturn. It found that in the last economic recession, companies that prioritized customer experience realized three times the shareholder returns compared to companies that did not.

One of the best ways to cultivate customer loyalty is by making interactions easier, particularly in a competitive environment. It’s not just wisdom for retailers: energy suppliers should be shifting to a more client-centric focus to prevent customer churn.

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The Harsh Truth: Most Customers Don’t Trust their Utility Provider

To understand customers’ biggest pain points, it’s important to examine how energy customers view their suppliers. A  study conducted by Accenture found that fewer than one-fourth of consumers trust their utility company. Part of the problem is that in the 21st century, customers are increasingly reliant on electronics for work, school, entertainment, navigation and more, so power outages have a greater impact.

The study also found that when it comes to customer satisfaction, utilities are lagging. Customers may feel they don’t have enough control over their choices when it comes to their utility, and they may perceive that energy companies simply aren’t keeping up with their demands for easy, fast and omnichannel solutions to their issues.

“It’s becoming clear that utilities are at a turning point when it comes to serving the new, tech-savvy consumer,” noted Greg Guthridge, Accenture Energy Consumer Services managing director. “Satisfaction and trust are built on consistently delivering the basic customer experience whether through digital or traditional channels. Once in place, utilities have incredible opportunities to create digitally powered value propositions that can deliver step-change consumer engagement.”

Savvy consumers are better educated, and less brand-loyal than ever before

Utility customers are on the hunt for the best combination of service and price on the market, and websites such as  Which?  in the UK or  PowerSwitch.com in the U.S. have made it easier for them to discover their options. But while customers who switch are usually looking to lower their utility bills, they’re also seeking energy companies that offer an excellent customer experience. And a key to the best experience is customer engagement, particularly when prices are similar to equal, and customers are looking for a differentiating factor.

Which Factors Contribute Most to Customer Satisfaction?

The Accenture study found that customers are seeking a variety of options, including flexible rate-plans and digital tools. While implementing digital customer tools costs money, lost customers cost more.

In a recent Anyline “Plugged In” podcast, Patrik Larm, Chief Revenue Officer of Bright Energy AB, noted that customer-facing apps are a great way to improve customer engagement. Mobile phones are ubiquitous, and most consumers have one nearby at all times, making it the most convenient way for them to communicate with service providers. 

Larm observed that energy customers who use apps change operators up to 40 percent less and remain customers for two to three years longer. Mobile meter reading, which allows utility subscribers and employees to employ camera-equipped smart devices to read meters without error, is a significant element of these apps.

The quality of the customer support app matters, so energy providers must choose the right technology partners to build apps to be usable, data-driven, and easy to integrate with backend systems.

A Real-World Example of Mobile Meter Reading

Northumbrian Water, provides water and sewage services to more than 2.7 million customers across the northeast of England, as well as water to parts of the southeast. In recent years, they have seized the opportunity to use technological solutions to improve the customer experience.

The company made significant upgrades to its customer experience by integrating Anyline self-reading technology for water meters into its customer-facing application. This enables customers to scan their own meters quickly and accurately through the company app when prompted to do so by an email from Northumbrian Water. 

The process improves the customer experience and enables customers to track and manage their water consumption. This means the energy company is saving its customers money, time and effort compared to traditional data-gathering methods.

How Can Self-Meter Scanning Be Integrated?

One of Anyline’s data capture technology’s biggest assets is that it can be integrated directly into any utility’s existing mobile apps quickly and easily. Companies can reduce investment and ownership costs while guaranteeing an easy user experience for workers and customers alike.

Anyline utility mobile meter reading technology can be easily integrated into an app thanks to its SDK (software development kit). The solution is backed by support from customer service teams. It works with Android and iOS smartphones and offers support for common integration frameworks including Xamarin, React Native and Cordova.

Discover if mobile meter reading is right for you by downloading our Energy & Water Demo App to test its capabilities.