Copenhagen, Denmark — (METERING.COM) — October 18, 2006 – The winners of the European Utility Awards 2006 were announced at a ceremony during the Metering, Billing/CRM Europe 2006 conference and exhibition, held this year in Copenhagen. The event attracted 1,370 participants from 60 countries worldwide.
The awards were established by Synergy, the organisers of the conference, and sponsored by Accenture, a global management consulting company. They were open to all European utilities and their service providers, and nominations were submitted for three categories: Business Performance, Customer Excellence and Innovation.
Winner of the Business Performance Award 2006: EDF Energy, UK
Jury: “Reducing churn, increasing energy efficiency commitment, cutting down on meter reads or estimated bills and selling additional products and services have improved EDF Energy’s business performance significantly!”
In 2005 EDF Energy launched a new initiative to avoid estimated bills and encourage customers to read their own meters. The READ.REDUCE.REWARD scheme allows customers to:
- READ their own bills and submit readings online
- REDUCE their energy consumption by means of an interactive energy tracker
- Be REWARDED with Nectar points for reducing energy usage.
An intensive advertising campaign has resulted in increased brand recognition. Over 90,000 customers have registered online, and there have been 112,000 registrations for READ.REDUCE.REWARD, with 1,800 registrations per week still being generated.
Winner of the Customer Excellence Award 2006: Sutton and East Surrey Water, UK
Jury: “Over 30,000 customers (22% of callers) used the card payment facility in the first year, and in the first three months 2,500 callers signed up for direct debit, with 1,500 using the balance enquiry service – ample proof that Sutton and East Surrey Water is meeting customer needs!”
Sutton and East Surrey Water prides itself on being at the cutting edge of development, and using technology to drive customer service levels higher – borne out by its introduction of an integrated speech-enabled solution from Fluency Voice Technology with DST International’s HiAffinity billing system.
The resulting ‘virtual call centre environment’ includes a fully automated speech recognition credit card payment facility, allowing customers to pay their bills 24/7. The system also handles balance enquiries and direct debit sign-up, and will be expanded to include meter readings, change of payment method and possibly even change of occupier.
Winner of the Innovation Award 2006: ISA iEyeMeter, Portugal
Jury: “Although we have seen other examples of this technology, the notable thing in this case is how it has been applied – a simple and low-cost solution that offers energy savings and improved customer service.”
The iEyeMeter is a non-invasive, easy to deploy wireless sensor network-based low-cost automatic meter reading (AMR) system, based on an electronic eye. This electronic eye is snapped onto the meter, and recognizes visible signs of commodity consumption (e.g. the rotating wheel in electromechanical meters or the output LED in digital meters).
Total meter reading is calculated through image signal processing and dedicated algorithms. The data is then sent wirelessly, using a radio transceiver, from the meter to a local concentrator.
Installing an iEyeMeter allows utilities to enjoy all the benefits of automatic meter reading without having to incur the cost of replacing the existing meter park.