Utility Week

UTILITY Week 9th October 2015

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22 | 9TH - 15TH OCTOBER 2015 | UTILITY WEEK Customers Analysis G oing online to manage elements of daily life, whether banking or energy bills, is nothing new. But with two- thirds of the UK population now owning a smartphone, according to telecoms regula- tor Ofcom, the rise of the smartphone app as a means of performing daily tasks online is seemingly unstoppable. Each of the big six energy suppliers has developed a free app available to down- load on the Android and Apple operating systems, with offerings also available from independent suppliers First Utility and Ovo Energy. Each promises to make managing domestic energy use easier, through meter readings with the help of a handy torch fea- ture, to viewing and paying bills. Delivering great, consistent customer service continues to be a challenge for the energy sector, so the operability and features of a supplier's app can make a big impact on a customer's over- all experience. However, as with all new technology, smartphone apps present their own techni- cal difficulties. Here Utility Week rounds up what's on offer, and what customers are say- ing about it. The votes recorded here reflect the views of users who downloaded apps at Google Play and Apple iTunes. The comments were le by users and are a representative sample of the opinions expressed. Applied science Smartphone apps offer utilities a great way to communicate with their customers, although often the same app will meet with a very varied response. Lucinda Dann reports. Special Features: • Track energy use Hester Lyons, 24 September, 5 stars: "Excellent app. Really nice and simple app with easy ways to view usage and compare with simi- lar households. Love the charts." Tom Ball, 7 September, 3 stars: "Good app. This app is pretty good and straight- forward to use… apart from the annoying remind- ers to submit meter readings even though I have a smart meter that does that for me." Special Features: • Live chat with an adviser • Check Blue+Price Promise • Check the progress of switching for new customers • View any service-related messages • Find your nearest prepayment outlets (Pay- Point, Payzone and Post Office) and see which facilities are offered (suc as key or card top-up or pick-up service, along with the opening times). Hayley Smith, 17 September, 5 stars: "First impressions: have used electric and gas providers' apps before. I'm impressed with the simplicity of this app. Works first time, no issues. Nice and simple no frills, which is all I want. Giv- ing it 5 stars as there's no reason not to. It works and does what it's supposed to. That's worthy of a good rating." Tony White, 20 September, 2 stars: "It should be smaller Why is this app so large? At over 100Mb it's bloated." Special Features: • See energy tracker usage in kilowatt-hours, sterling and CO2 • Personalised backgrounds Peter Ord, 3rd September, 3 stars: "An easy way to send meter readings, but we have to send meter readings from our solar panels and the app doesn't have a facility for this, which means a separate phone call or email, which is a pain. Please add this function." Peter Davies, 11th August, 1 star: "Dreadful app, it should be functional, not pretty." Special Features: • See tariff, account balance and payment history • Track energy use with month-by-month graphs • Book an engineer or annual service visit Liam Furr, 28 September, 1 star: "Like a needy child; constantly wants login details. I used to love this app until it started logging me out a er each use. I have too many passwords to remember and resetting my British Gas one every time I use the app is proper annoying." Mark Douglas,24 September, 4 star: "Really useful app. I use this every month to submit my meter readings and love it. The only slight issue is that the light is switched off too early when submitting a reading, meaning you can't double check the value before submitting." British Gas Android: 4.3 stars (16,249 votes) Apple: 4 stars (16,153 votes) EDF Android: 2.9 stars (1,246 votes) Apple: 2 stars (763 votes) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Npower Android: 3.3 stars (1,965 votes) Apple: 3.5 stars (763 votes) ★ ★ ★ Ovo Energy Android: 3.1 stars (1,118 votes) Apple: 3 stars (648 votes) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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