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Written by Siobhan Stanger, Chief Regulatory Officer at Smart DCC.
At the Smart Data Communications Company (DCC) we believe in better connecting Britain so that we can all lead smarter, greener lives.
First up we’re helping to digitise and decarbonise the energy industry by providing the central, secure network for smart metering.
To do our job well we want to make sure we work in partnership with our customers – the energy suppliers and distribution network operators -- and other players in the industry.
The DCC has engaged its customers through a variety of forums, by publishing all our consultations online and with face-to-face meetings. But there’s more we can be doing to make things easier, clearer and to ensure our plans are informed by those we serve. That’s why, in December 2018, we asked our customers what they thought of the way we engage and invited suggestions for improving how we work with them.
We received rich and useful feedback that will help us to communicate better and give DCC customers greater opportunity to help shape our plans. Among the responses customers submitted, we saw some clear themes:
Support the ability to respond – overall it was felt that we provide too many formal consultations, limiting the ability of customers to respond to all of them. Smaller energy suppliers, in particular, felt we could do more to make it easier to respond to consultations in a quicker and more effective way.
Simplify and better coordinate communications – it was generally felt that we need to simplify our communications and target them so the right people are involved in the right consultations. It was also suggested that we need more internal co-ordination of consultations to synchronise messaging and reduce duplication. We received feedback that we hold too many forums which sometimes duplicate discussions and involve the wrong people.
Close the feedback loop – customers wanted clearer information about the output of the consultations and what actions are being taken as a result. It was also suggested that customers would benefit from being able to track responses to engagement.
We are a learning organisation that thrives on feedback and seeks to improve continuously. We have carefully worked through all the feedback, and today have published our official response. The major areas we are working on include:
Greater transparency – sharing more information about what we are doing, how we make decisions and how much we are spending.
Clarity about how and where we will engage customers – with three categories of engagement inform, shape or vote, we’ll set clear expectations for the type of feedback we’re seeking from customers to help inform our decision making. We will also be clear up front which forums and meetings we will attend to seek customer views. .
Improved digital offering – we’re working on a new customer portal to provide a clearer, more targeted view of DCC activities such as consultations and events.
Simplified communications – we’ll strive reduce acronyms and jargon, to make our communications more accessible for all readers.
I am absolutely committed that we improve the way we engage and consult so that the energy industry is genuinely involved in informing DCC’s decision making on the smart meter rollout and Britain’s move towards cleaner energy. Not everything we’re planning to change is a “quick win” and some things will take time; but I’m excited about having a more connected process that genuinely allows customers to input to our plans.