On a fine misty morning, a group of people are huddled around a conference table hanging attentively on to the chairperson’s every word. ‘If the customer sneezes, we should be suffering from pneumonia!’ the chairperson declares. With leadership and direction like this, our belief that caring for our customers is paramount, is still further reinforced. Every Monday morning at Secure starts with such discussions, bordering around a larger agenda aimed not only at ensuring the design and manufacture of quality products, but also at ensuring that their delivery and their use is a wholly positive experience for our customers. Whilst Secure has always been known to deliver quality, the difference now, is that the focus goes beyond purely intrinsic product quality, to something that is extrinsic and managed right across the value chain. Secure’s advantage lies in our deep understanding of the customers’ needs and our ability to generate solutions that help consumers conserve and save energy, through the pragmatic use of technology, coupled with mature engineering and manufacturing practices.
Our thirst to understand and alleviate the problems faced by our customers dates back to 1999, when we developed a token-less solution for pre-payment customers in Northern Ireland (for NIE). Such a solution clearly highlights that our focus is on user convenience and this has always been the case in all our products. Understanding the factors that limited the attractiveness of pre-payment meters from the customers’ point of view and appreciating and empathising with the need to resolve them, is what keeps us going. Simple aspects about the unpopularity of old fashioned pre-pay meters, such as the need to walk to a vending point to recharge the system, led us to create a solution where the customers need not be constrained to visiting physical outlets, but can purchase top-up codes over the internet or via their phones or smart phones instead. Our desire to resolve our customers’ problems, such as issues arising from token acceptance, led us to the solution of providing codes that are meter specific, can only be used once and can easily be reissued if lost.
From being a traditional metering company, our efforts to provide the best user experience while using the technology pragmatically, has helped us to evolve into a global enterprise providing end-to-end services and solutions early in our history. This has led to the creation and delivery of one of the most successful smart metering system solutions available in the UK, which has now touched millions of users in Great Britain. In 2015 we were nominated for the prestigious ‘European Smart Metering and Smart Grid Awards’ for ‘Smart Metering Data Management & Solutions’.
Understanding the link between customer experience and customer service, the GBSM solution was designed to meet the unique set of challenges faced by power utilities seeking to serve their customers better, at the same time as enabling consumers to manage their energy use. Being able to view their real time energy consumption, encourages customers to become more energy conscious and ultimately reduces CO2 emissions. The ability to program meters with features like ‘friendly credit’ and ‘emergency credit’ and offering remote top-up facilities either online, over the phone or even by SMS, massively improved the convenience and attractiveness of the pre-pay service.
Caring for our customers is all about building positive and sustainable relationships. And what better way to do this than to provide reliable solutions that deliver peace of mind, in a convenient and cost effective manner? Recognising the need for an accurate and reliable metering solution, led us to develop Saral, our new single-phase credit meter. The product has been designed for stable metrological performance through a design process, whereby stress analysis of all critical components at elevated voltages and currents, and erroneous analysis of components at higher temperatures, were carried out to ensure a lifetime of at least 10 years on the wall. With the smallest footprint in its class, and an intuitive user interface that will help meter readers as well as the end customer to read and comprehend the display easily, it has already set a new benchmark for accuracy performance – making it the ideal choice for distribution companies.
The measures of quality which we have set for ourselves are also ways to improve our supply chain, and help to eliminate the problem areas for our customers. We have identified areas where our customers face the most difficulties today and a major cause is delays, due to poor planning. It is this area that we particularly want to improve so that we supply goods in-time and in-full, of the right quality. Established on the premise of continuous and holistic improvement, our quality improvement programme is centred on preventing and eliminating failures, On Time In Full (OTIF) with Quality (QOTIF). OTIF and QOTIF are now not alien for Secure. Based on a simple but absolutely essential need to ship products on time in full which are fully functional when the customer receives them, OTIF and QOTIF have a far reaching impact: reduced inventory, reduced cycle time, better cash-flow, higher gross margins, loyal and satisfied customers.
Our promise to customers is that we are not only here to make a sale, but to deliver a solution that solves the consumers’ problems and helps to enhance their customers’ quality of life. It is this promise that led us to our journey with Manipur State Power Distribution Company Limited, at a time when the utility was battling with problems like high AT&C losses (81.32% in 2008-09), inability to supply adequate power to its customers and low collection efficiency. Taking a novel decision to conduct a pilot pre-payment meter installation, the utility started to deploy pre-paid meters in high revenue areas. Encouraged by the success of the pilot, further roll-outs were planned. Today, the electricity landscape in Manipur is witnessing a huge change and there has been an enormously positive impact in the areas where pre-paid meters have been installed. There is a 10 fold improvement in billing and collection efficiency and no commercial losses, thereby helping to enable 24×7 power to consumers. Besides benefits to MSPDCL, pre-payment metering has benefited the consumers by helping them start to achieve the dream of a 24×7, quality and reliable power supply.
We want them to feel a sense of satisfaction with the whole experience of partnering with us and using our products. Through this, we aim to have a customer base that has been built on shared values, goals and mutual respect. Caring means putting the person you care for, before yourself. This is the legacy we would like to leave.