Smart Cities, Smart Cars, Smart Thermostats, Smart Phones. What else? Smart is a bit like Green was years ago, applicable to what marketers needed to sell, conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound. (Source)

Smart is between the ears, however, not between a control board and switch. As our grid becomes more technically advanced, customers will need to advance, too. Get smarter, because the usefulness of the new tools to manage power will depend on the human that sets them up.

Why?

Every customer has differing needs. “There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to customer energy decisions. Certain technologies or forms of financing might make sense for one customer but not another based on their location, behavior or financial status. Effective customer engagement will inform customers of all options available to them, ensuring the most informed decision.” (Source)

Lack of customer education is a barrier to a cleaner, efficient grid. Utilities can introduce options like time-of-use prices or the ability of the utility to manage home power consumption. Customers have to understand the options and put them to work.

Education improves your buying. Customer education means you will have received what you thought you should receive, and for the right price.

A more subtle point now…

Smart customers learn more about the companies where they buy. A recent article, What is the real purpose of companies? Only their behavior can tell us, illuminates this idea. There are Real markets – where customers actually buy, where there are transactions, and the are Expectations markets – beyond the immediate sale, how a company impacts more abstract issues – the region, people, resources, for instance.

Smart customers know the character of their provider, and whether a customer can depend on information from a company to be accurate, with a mutual interest, and carefully considered. That means a customer really learns about the choice before buying, doesn’t just look for a gotcha from the company if there is a problem.

That is especially true in a purchase with quickly evolving technology. Think of your phone from 2000 to today. Your television – thinner, more capabilities. Maybe the first car you had and what you have now.

Put your future electric service in the same “smart customer” bucket. It will increasingly need your good thinking to be most useful to you and get the most from your power provider. You’ll need to be smart about it.