"One of the major applications of IZAR@HOME is to improve customers’ engagement and satisfaction"
Diehl Metering expands its offer to utilities with a new solution called IZAR@HOME. This smartphone app gives consumers direct access to a wealth of information about their water and energy consumption. Thanks to a fixed network solution, utilities already collect data about the water distribution network on a daily routine (or even hourly). With smart meters installed at houses, information about the consumption as well as house network anomalies is generated and analysed. By sharing this information with their customers, utilities offer them a new service and get the chance to increase their satisfaction and engagement.
We would like to know more about the IZAR@HOME consumer app. What are its applications in the water sector?
Consumers have increasingly high expectations of utilities. They expect instant responses, sustainability and tailored services because that’s what they’re used to. Meeting these expectations is essential if utilities want to drive customer engagement and satisfaction. But being more customer-centric doesn’t necessarily mean devoting more time to consumers. It can also be about giving consumers more responsibility, about empowering them to find their own answers, drive their own cost savings, and make their own contribution to sustainability. That’s why I would say that one of the major applications of IZAR@HOME is to improve customers’ engagement and satisfaction. The second one, which is particularly important for me, is to give consumers the opportunity to drive their water consumption in a sustainable way.
Please tell us about the main features of IZAR@HOME.
First, on the splash screen the consumer can find core information at a glance: benchmark indicators, a monthly data overview, consumption and bill amount of the last month, and the latest system notifications, for example new alarms. In a single view, users will know how much water they really consumed in a month, if their use is in line with the average for consumers (a peer group defined with the utility), and if there is a problem in their water network. These are all the main features of IZAR@HOME, that is to say, information about water consumption, billing and being alerted if there is a problem.
"These are all the main features of IZAR@HOME: information about water consumption, billing and being alerted if there is a problem"
If consumers want to know more about their consumption, their bill or their meter, then with one click they can access their household’s statistics with different time granularities, the consumption data history, the overall bill amounts and the bill components, or the latest values and alarms for their meter.
There’s also an interesting dashboard called My Forecast. In this last one, consumers get information about the expected consumption and bill value by the end of a year. They will see a yearly and monthly consumption forecast for the running year, yearly estimated charges and an indicator of the evolution which compares consumption to the previous year as a percentage. Finally, yet importantly, there is also a Help Center. It is designed as an online service application with answers to the most important questions.
Can you tell us about some projects where IZAR@HOME is in use or will be soon implemented?
As the IZAR@HOME is a new solution, we have launched different pilot projects in European countries last year and we realised our first live project with a utility in Denmark, BRONDERSLEV FORSYNING. They now use the IZAR@HOME app to provide consumers information about thermal energy and their water meters, and as well it is possible to monitor the heat efficiency of the household towards the utility target.
The IZAR@HOME consumer app will give customers more transparency about their water consumption. What are the benefits it offers for water utilities? And the benefits for customers?
A utility in Denmark now uses the IZAR@HOME app to provide consumers information about thermal energy and their water meters
First, for water utilities, it is all about customer engagement and smoother communication. IZAR@HOME helps strengthen customer relations and improve customer communication. The benefits are numerous: fewer calls, fewer complaints. Because consumers have a wealth of data at their fingertips, they won’t need to contact utilities as much. The knock-on effect is less administration and more time for other tasks. Direct contact is made easy: utilities can use the app to send out information to consumers in nearly real time. Urgent push messages, such as frost alerts or leak alarms, will reach consumers immediately, meaning they can react rapidly to prevent potential damage to their homes. And utilities can also communicate about crisis management and ongoing activities.
Then, for customers, IZAR@HOME is a wonderful tool that empowers them to save natural resources. Simple graphs help them understand the data and adapt their behaviour to make a real contribution to water savings.
To what extent can the app be customized to suit the needs of utilities?
IZAR@HOME supports a user interface called the IZAR@HOME console, so that utilities can customize the IZAR@HOME App and get in touch with their consumers directly. First, the utility can send direct messages to the App of their consumers with the notification function (e.g., about maintenance, to provide tips, to announce promotions etc.). Second, the utility is able to set up its own questions and answers for the most interesting topics that will be displayed to their consumers in the App’s Help Center. Third, the utility can customize additional parameters of the App, e.g., defining when notifications shall be sent to consumers, how the utility can be reached in case of questions etc. Fourth, the IZAR@HOME supports a functionality for consumer benchmarking that allows additional customizing by the utility.
"With the user interface IZAR@HOME console, utilities can customize the App and get in touch with their consumers directly"
Indeed, they can define standard categories for benchmarking based on monthly consumptions, e.g., for a monthly water consumption in a household, the categories could look like: A (highest efficiency): <10 m³, B: 10-20 m³, C: 20-30 m³, D: 30-40 m³, E: 40-50 m³, F: >=50 m³. This means that a new App user will benchmark against these standard categories. However, the utility can also define certain questions that are asked to an App user during first login to the App (e.g., size of household, age of building, number of persons in the household). If a user provides this data and consents in line with the General Data Regulation that the data can be used to build energy efficiency groups, the IZAR@HOME Backend provides a data analytics function to create customized peer groups and benchmarking categories.
What issues related to water cycle management does it address?
IZAR@HOME only concerns issues behind the meter in the house. We focus on end-customers’ issues, meaning what is going on in the house, between the meter and taps.
How does it differ from other products in the market?
We do not have direct competitors offering this sort of products. I am not saying that a smartphone app that allows households to consult multiple metrics about consumption does not exist, I am sure that digital companies already provide this sort of solution. Diehl Metering is offering its customers to share with the end-customers a wealth of information they already have. With a smart meter installed at the house, information about consumption as well as house network anomalies can be generated and sent automatically, within the hour, to the utility server through a fixed network installation. The question is: why not sharing this information with your customers? IZAR@HOME is a simple answer to this question.
What did the launch of this product mean for the water sector?
In the era of digital communication, consumers expect instant responses because digital interaction is part of their daily lives. In the last decade, smartphones became essential and many of us do not even imagine life without this device. Recent events have forced us to accelerate digitalization process, especially when it comes to customer service issues. In my opinion, this solution is part of the process of digitalization.
Moreover, offering a tool that enables customers to monitor and optimize their own consumption is good news for sustainability. As consumers, we are all aware of water scarcity and that we must make every effort to respect the planet and to save its precious resources. This solution is a simple way for consumers to understand their water consumption and an opportunity to adapt their behaviour to make a real contribution to saving water.
What are the business expectations for this type of product in the water sector?
Diehl Metering has always worked with its customers as partners. With IZAR@HOME we choose to offer our customers a new solution to improve their customers’ engagement. And it’s the same for us, we expect to grow our customers’ satisfaction.