When it comes to choosing an electric and gas utility rate database, you have options. There are multiple vendors and multiple platforms on the market. Some are crowdsourced, others are compiled by paid professionals. Some are free, others involve a recurring monthly subscription. Some are famous for the accuracy and timeliness of their data, and others, not so much.
All of this means you must choose wisely. You must choose the database, and the company behind it, carefully. To make a wise choice, one you can live with, avoid these eight common mistakes that companies make when buying a utility rate database.
Mistake 1: The Database is Crowdsourced
There are some databases available online that are compiled with data supplied by the community. These sources of electric and gas rate data are quick and easy to use, but they are inaccurate. Because they are compiled by volunteers who have varying levels of expertise (ranging from experts to enthusiasts) and varying amounts of free time on their hands, these crowdsourced databases are never complete, often inaccurate and rarely timely. Some of them have data that is years out of date.
Mistake 2: The Data is Inaccurate
Every utility rate database on the market features data that’s compiled from publicly available sources. All database vendors work from the same source information. But how they work with that data makes all the difference. Entering data from public sources into private databases is never a simple one-to-one effort.
Information in public sources varies in how it is presented and defined. Interpreting this information, and entering it into a database can be a challenge. This introduces errors. The number of errors, and the severity of those errors, depends entirely on a vendor’s processes, procedures and quality control standards. When choosing a database vendor, make sure you pick on that measures the accuracy of its utility rate data.
Mistake 3: The Vendor is Unresponsive
All of the companies that offer electric and gas utility rate databases offer some level of customer support. But getting that support when you need it is another matter. What we have discovered over the years is that our customers need expert advice immediately. When they are putting together a report or drafting a proposal, and they run into a snag, they need to talk with someone immediately. They need a vendor who is responsive. Avoid database companies that are slow to respond.
Mistake 4: Technical Support Doesn’t Favor Your Preferred Communication Channel
If your engineers prefer to communicate by email, then your database vendor should offer that channel as a priority. If your engineers dislike communicating with technical support by phone and chatbot, then your database vendor should not push these channels on you, forcing your firm to communicate with the vendor the way the vendor wants.
Mistake 5: The Vendor Takes Too Long to Resolve Issues
One of the primary KPIs used to measure help desk performance is resolution time, the average number of minutes, hours or days a company takes to resolve support tickets. One mistake to avoid in choosing an electric and gas utility rate database is picking a company that takes too long to resolve your support requests. A good benchmark to aim for is within 24 hours. Avoid firms that take longer than 24 hours to give you the answers you need.
Mistake 6: The Vendor Lacks Sufficient Expertise
One of your greatest challenges when working with electric and gas rate data is making sense of the data. Most database tools are simple enough to use. What you need isn’t tips on using the tool. What you need is expert guidance, from industry insiders, on how to makes sense of the schedules, the rates, the naming conventions. Stay clear of companies that offer data but no expertise.
Mistake 7: Vendor Offers Minimal Customization
You likely have unique needs when it comes to manipulating, parsing, using, presenting and reporting on electric and gas rate data. Which means the database you choose should come with the ability for you to customize queries, customize reports and in other ways customize how the database gives you what you need. Some database companies offer you multiple ways to customize rate schedules to meet your needs. They even offer this customization as a service. But other firms offer off-the-shelf databases that feature next to no customization options.
Mistake 8: Database Lacks Vital Functionality
Some electric and gas rate databases offer functions and features that others don’t. One mistake to avoid is choosing a database that lacks a vital function that you are sure to need. For example, do you need the ability to download multiple schedules into a spreadsheet at once? Does the database have to offer historical data as well as the latest rates? Is this feature a deal-breaker for you? Then you must avoid any platforms that lack this feature, and any other features or functions that are essential to your workflows and business needs.
To choose an electric and gas utility rate database, you need both a database that offers the functionality you need, and a company behind the software that offers expert advice, answers your inquiries promptly, and resolves issues with acceptable timeframes. If you avoid these eight common blunders, you will pick a vendor that suits your needs.
We think the RateAcuity™ database is the best way to gather electricity and gas rates or compare energy tariffs in a convenient, accurate manner. Our natural gas and electricity rate database provides on-demand nationwide electric and gas rate data, allowing you or your clients to make decisions without the hours of labor it would usually take to locate information. If you’d like to learn more, let’s talk.