7 Ways to Make Sure Your Smart Meter Roll-out is Successful
The roll-out of smart meters is no doubt one of the most ambitious large-scale projects, not least because of the large number of stakeholders involved – the EU, government bodies, Utility providers and their employees, and the public.
In the UK alone, it has been found that Utility providers will need 10,000 engineers to install 53 million meters in 30 million homes and small business. These numbers demonstrate that the success of the smart meter roll-out lies just as much with managing the ‘human factor’ as it is about the technology.
So how can Utility providers manage this ‘human factor’ to ensure that their Smart Meter roll-out goes without a hitch?
- Manage Change. We all hate change, even if we know that change could bring progress. Utility providers need to quickly address any concerns that customers may have with the Smart Meter roll-out, whether that is reassuring the 62% of consumers who are said to be sceptical that the roll-out will go smoothly or dispelling myths about Smart Meters.
- Make Informed Decisions. Behind the scenes of the roll-out, there is an army of people who need to be told where to go, what to do, and when to do it, and that’s just for starters. This is where workforce management software can iron out any kinks that might leave customers frustrated and negatively impact revenues and profit.
- A Strategy for Managing Your Workforce. Smart Meter roll-out is a long-term project, with the complexity of planning, training, managing and deploying the right personnel at the time to the right place. With the right strategy in place, Utility companies can not only improve productivity but also analyse results and performance to optimise future plans.
- Improve Relationships with Contractors. It is highly likely that Utility companies are going to need to deploy contractors to work alongside their permanent workforce. Being able to coordinate the efforts of these two separate teams is highly useful as it will translate into both teams being able to work side-by-side with maximum efficiency.
- Dealing with Scepticism. It is to be expected, with the sheer number of stakeholders involved, that some might not be sure about how they might benefit from Smart Meters. Utility companies need to adopt a proactive approach to addressing the concerns that employees and members of the public have, if fears about the impact of electromagnetic fields (for instance) are to be nipped in the bud.
- Winning over Customers. With clear, transparent information so that customers can understand how smart meters can benefit them. Employees are a secret weapon for Utility companies here. Field workers most often are the point of contact with customers. Every employee should be trained to deliver a consistent message and feel confident to field even the most difficult questions.
- Big Data Ready. Getting the smart meters into homes and offices is just the start of the story. Utility providers need to prepare how they are going to collect, process and analyse the vast volume of data that will come from smart meters. Some questions that Utility companies should consider – What can the data tell us? How can we get meaningful insight from the data? And how will we react to that insight?
Although close to 45 million smart meters have been installed in Finland, Italy and Sweden, there is still a long way to go if the target set by EU Member States of having 200 million smart meters for electricity and 45 million for gas installed by 2020, is to be reached.
With five years to go, now is the time to put in place the communication and scheduling infrastructure to ensure that smart meter targets can be met. Utilising technology to manage the massive workforce needed for this roll-out and harnessing information to improve the customer experience will be the key to ensuring that come 2020, smart meters are present and working effectively in the majority of homes.
For more insights and best practices on how you can make your Smart Meter roll-out a successful one, do read Rise of the machines – how to make a successful smart meter roll-out.