Is the smart meter pressure too much for Utility companies?

Published: Monday January 28, 2019

A blog by Rob Frost, Propositions and Solutions Manager, GBG Datacare

Utility companies are under constant pressure from the regulators around the capping of prices to the installation of smart meters.

Customers are switching in droves, and moving to policies that offer greener energy, better customer servicing and/or cost savings. The increasing availability of renewable energy, the government’s carbon offsetting program and potential entrants and leavers into the industry, means the utility sector is now much more dynamic and uncertain.

For an industry that needs to plan 10, 20, 50 years in advance, this creates a challenging and complex environment.

With experience, triumphs and a solid understanding of the utilities space, GBG can help with our GBG Datacare solution to improve and elongate solid customer relationships.

Data decay can disrupt around 20% of your customer database each year, with inaccurate or obsolete information impacting your engagements and success.

GBG Datacare can help correct, suppress or append your data and therefore increase connectivity with the right customers, at the right time, with the right message. The result – improved efficiency in communications and therefore performance, ultimately equating into greater revenues.

Let’s explore just one of the challenges impacting utilities customers: Smart Meter installations. Here is how GBG Datacare can aid your customer journey and ultimately improve customer satisfaction:

Firstly, you need to understand who you can offer a smart meter too. Some properties are not suitable for smart meters, as are some customers. Identifying vulnerable customers either those you know, or ones GBG can help identify, and using GBG ‘Property Intelligence’ variables to identify flats, listed buildings or rented properties means that you can identify your target market.

Next up is planning what customers to target and how best to communicate. By utilising GBG Datasets and (if required) GBG insight, you can begin to calculate a person’s propensity to switch to a smart meter, and from this decide who to target and how. However, good propensity models rely upon good input data, so ensure that data is clean and accurate before starting.

Finally, a good point to remember is that the model outputs need to be actionable. This requires having the right permissions (whether that is consent or legitimate interest) and interacting with customers through the right channel. Marketing performance is improved through simple data cleansing – correcting an address so direct mailings are deliverable, and having valid phone numbers and email addresses. Operationally, removing invalid data such as phone numbers, unblocks up your dialler and improves your call centre efficiency.

You can understand which of your customers are in the moving house process with GBG’s MinT (Moments in Time) dataset that allows you to understand where your customers are in the home moving process. You can then capitalise on this life event as an ideal time to retain their custom, and to inform them of the benefits of switching to a smart meter (especially when managing outgoings, which are typically under pressure when you move home).

As the customer journey continues we approach the time to install the Smart Meter. Installation failure is typically around 56 per cent. At around £40 (GBP) per installation, it means for every 10,000 installations, operationally it costs £224,000 and 5,600 meters are not installed.

Contacting customers prior to the visit can reduce installation failures by 37 per cent. This can be in the form of a simple phone call, highlighting the importance of having up-to-date contact data. At this rate 3,700 more meters can be installed and consequently reduce the loss of failed appointments by £148,000.

Additionally, by utilising GBG ‘Property Intelligence’ variables to identify factors such as distance from the road and many more, estimations of appointment times / durations can be more accurate. All this data can result in help manage customer expectations.

In summary, GBG has helped many companies in the utility sector through our GBG Datacare solution. From these relationships, we understand the challenges utility companies are faced with, and Smart Meters are just one part of the puzzle to overcome for our customers.

We continue to drive marketing and operational performance for customers, working in partnership to ensure any data recommendations drive measureable benefits to our clients.


We’re excited to announce our upcoming event for utility companies, in partnership with IBM, on 29 April 2019 in London.

Join us to hear tangible tips on how your company can increase customer engagement. Places are limited, so register for a place now

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