4. Putting different communication together
According to our research on international smart grid engagement, typically programs put many forms of communication together in one program. So it is not a one-size-fit-all solution. The breadth of coverage helps in making the overall offerings more appropriate to different segments of customers. Utilities also need to come up with creative ways of engaging customers through unique channels. For example, in its Customer Behavior Trials, Ireland introduced Fridge Magnet as an effective channel of communication to the customers.
5. Financial incentive is not king
In many programs we analyzed, there is usually a financial incentive given to the customers if they participate. It is true that customers generally appreciate financial gifts for participating in pilot programs; however, they do not necessarily require them. Receiving education and support on how to reduce energy bills and keeping the technology afterwards can in some situations be just as motivating.
The fact is that customers appreciate knowing, or even need to know, through the demonstration of the utility’s behavior and or promises and guarantees, that the utilities are trying to help the customer, that their participation will not lead to them paying more, and that their participation will provide them opportunities to save money.
6. Do not forget the bill
Regardless of all the feedback that a customer receives, if the bill that comes to them at the end of a billing period is higher than previously or higher than they expected, or even not noticeably lower than previously, then a customer will be discouraged or in the worst cases even highly critical of the smart grid.
A way to overcome this is to make billing as clear and informative as possible. For example, through feedback and other communication provided to the customer which allows the customer to differentiate between increases in bills that are attributable to price increases as opposed to increases in consumption.
Figure: Fridge Magnet showing time of use times and prices, developed for Electricity Smart Metering Customer Behavior Trials, Ireland
This article was written by Steve Xu, Analyst