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Meet your obligations with heat network regulations

Posted by Ian Allan

Thursday 1st June, 2017

Joined up thinking: Heat networks

Posted by Ian Allan

Customers on community heating schemes have a number of touch points with their providers: from maintenance and repairs to billing and marketing.

In this blog we look at how providers can bring teams together to improve the customer experience.

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Coordination between functions is an important factor to get right in order to ensure  the smooth operation of community heating systems and most importantly customer satisfaction.

For leading district heating operators - whether a social landlord or private developer - they can achieve the above objective by working with one partner who is responsible for the set up, billing, maintenance and customer service on a development.

With this in mind, the CIBSE and ADE’s Code of Practice specifies that heat scheme operators should have “joined-up” working between all elements of the supply chain, and in most cases a single organisation should be responsible for billing, issues and repairs.

By linking functions effectively, customer satisfaction can be the focus of enhanced internal communication and coordination. With each department working together more closely, adjustments can be made to enhance service.

Taking away the ‘blame game’

Generally the customer is used to regular contact with the payment and administration part of the heat provider’s system. If departments are linked effectively, this establishes a channel that can be used to funnel communications through to operational teams and other departments. Similarly, information on planned maintenance or repairs can be delivered to the consumers through these same regular channels.

The interface between the building heating systems and the heat network is critical in delivering customer satisfaction. Having maintenance under the same organisational structure puts the responsibility for scheme performance in one place. The configuration and maintenance of the building connected to the district network or plant rooms can have a significant effect on performance especially around maintaining low return temperatures.

Protecting the resident

A single organisation also means there is less need for data sharing, which helps maintain data privacy for customers, and reduces the potential for errors. It also keeps costs down and reduces the need for software interfaces.

Any software system used needs to be designed to ensure privacy and protection of customers’ data, and it is important that the data is used only as needed to conduct business. Therefore, employees and contractors who work in the system should be required to work carefully to protect all customer information.

Equipment ownership

It is also easier to manage access to corporate equipment, as well as enforcing encryption and data storage rules if all departments are under one roof. Specialised software can protect systems and data by, for example, hiding or blocking out sensitive customer data to make sure employees who do not need access to certain information do not have access. While coordination is possible among different organisations, the optimum solution is to bring all functions under the same umbrella. Whether or not this is possible, all involved must make sure they are singing from the same hymn sheet.

Proof is in the pudding

Our 35 years’ experience has taught us a lot when it comes to service delivery on community and district heat networks. Having clear communications channels across the network is key to ensuring that problems and any issues that arise are dealt with efficiently and effectively. Why should you believe us? Well, very recently we were awarded Supplier of the Year, check out what the Judge had to say about Switch2:

 

Takeaways:

  • Good coordination between organisations or departments is recommended by the CIBSE Code of Practice.
  • Coordination and cooperation are essential to enable a focus on customer service.
  • This means a single, familiar channel of communications can always be used.
  • Coordination of maintenance and operational issues enhances system performance.
  • Bring everything under one roof cuts the need for data sharing.
  • All software systems need to be designed with customer privacy in mind.
  • Standard systems and procedures keeps things more streamlined and cost effective.

Best Practice in Action - how to implement the CIBSE code of practice

Ian Allan

Head of Market Strategy

Areas of expertise:

• Industry challenges and issues • Heat Network Regulations • Smart metering

• Innovation in heat networks • Tariff setting • Energy prepayment • Digital innovation

• Data management • Automated Meter Reading (AMR) • Heat Interface Units

• International district heating • Compliance & best practice standards

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