Smart light bulbs. Smart boilers. Smart plugs. Centrica is pioneering the connected home concept in multiple markets across the UK, Republic of Ireland and North America. We talked to Neil Procter, who oversees CRM for the Connected Home business unit, about what this means for homeowners, and why smart products need to be backed up by smart services.  


How can smart or connected homes enrich our lives?

By using the power of connected technology, people can control key elements in their home environment more easily and effectively from their smartphone. For example, if someone leaves work later than planned, they can use a mobile app to remotely change their boiler settings so they are not heating an empty house.

Hot water, lighting, and even electrical appliances can also be controlled in the same way. Just imagine your hallway lights and radio coming on automatically as you open the front door, welcoming you home after a long day’s work. It’s not just about quality of life; a connected home can also improve security and reduce energy bills.


This sounds a bit Star Trek; is it really happening today?

Yes it is! More than half a million homes in the UK are already benefitting from one or more of the products in our Hive family. We introduced our first product, Hive Active Heating, in autumn 2013, and now also offer smart light bulbs, motion sensors, window or door sensors, and plugs.

The potential for a connected home is huge: we’re not just looking at the Internet of Things but also artificial intelligence. Our data scientists are already developing a device that will help detect potential leaks by monitoring water flow based on a household’s normal usage volumes at certain times of the day.



Understanding new technologies can be challenging for customers. How do you know people are getting the most from Hive products?

The concept of smart homes is still quite new, so it’s important that both our products and customer services are as simple and accessible as possible. We source feedback at key points during the customer journey, which not only informs product developments and process improvements but also contributes to our Net Promoter Scores (NPS). With Salesforce, we’ll be able to send out more timely and personalised surveys to capture more detailed feedback from our growing customer base.


Why are rating systems like NPS important?

After talking to our customers, we know that 75% of them have already recommended Hive to their family and friends, but we also need to be able to benchmark our performance against our peers. As an industry standard, NPS allows us to do that. Connected Home’s combined score for technical support and service contacts is at level that for many energy and service companies, would be considered world-class, so we’re quite proud of our rating.

But achieving a great score isn’t enough; you’ve got to really listen and respond to customer feedback. I’ll give you an example: if a customer survey comes back with low scores, we’ll contact them to find out why. We also publish survey responses on customer profiles, so our team can factor this in when responding to any queries.


Tell us more about how you are personalising customer engagements 

Providing customers with the right information at the right time is really important. To help nurture relationships, we want to tailor communications, such as newsletters, promotions, and onboarding instructions, to match a customer’s product suite and Hive journey to date. For example, by integrating Marketing Cloud with our IoT platform, we can see if a homeowner has bought a product but not yet activated his or her account, or how a customer’s heating usage compares with other people in the same area. These types of insights are very powerful both for us and the customer.


It sounds like integration is really important for your business.

Connected Home is part of a large global enterprise – Centrica employs more than 36,000 people. Our systems need to be as connected as the products we are developing for our customers. With Salesforce, making these connections is easy. Salesforce enables us to launch these new products and services in an agile and efficient manner, helping us stay at the forefront of innovation in the connected home industry. The connected home market is still evolving, and we need to be fast on our feet.

By making smarter connections both in customers’ homes and its own business, Centrica can unlock new insights, efficiencies, and opportunities. Read the full success story to find out more about its Connected Home initiative


Want to start thinking more strategically about connecting your own business? Check out our e-book Creating a Connected Customer Experience for more insight and tips from the experts.