Satisfied customers save utilities money

When customers are aware of and engaged in multiple program, product and service offerings, satisfaction levels with utilities rise. That is a conclusion derived by J.D. Power study, now in its second year, based on responses from 27,000 residential customers of 143 electric utilities throughout North America.

“Offering a variety of programs is an important driver of customer satisfaction because one size does not fit all,” said Jeff Conklin, senior director of the energy utility practice at J.D. Power. “Utilities need to understand that while some programs are popular and satisfying in one demographic, various programs are necessary to address the needs across all customer segments.”

Overall, satisfaction is rising as utility program participation increases. Satisfaction among customers who are not aware of any program is 587 out of 1,000 compared with 646 among those who are aware of program offerings but do not participate. Satisfaction increases to 655 among customers who participate in one program and increases dramatically, to 834, when customers are engaged in seven or more programs.

The result: engaged customers are self-service oriented and call their utility less often, mitigating contact center call volumes by 21 percent, reducing contact center costs.

Among the highest-rated utility program offerings are social media tools that compare usage and old appliance/refrigerator recycling, in a tie (8.1 points each out of 10), e-bill (7.9) and remote adjust thermostat (7.9). The least satisfying programs include a tool comparing usage to other households (6.9) and time-of-day electric usage price plan (6.8). Products and services with the highest participation rates include e-bill (21 percent), level or equal pay plan (6 percent) and thermostat control (3 percent).

Arizona Public Service, Baltimore Gas & Electric, and Salt River Project perform particularly well in overall customer engagement through participation in their products or services, according to J.D. Power, while Dominion Virginia Power, Florida Power and Light, and the Sacramento Municipal Utility perform well in overall product or service satisfaction.

The 2014 Consumer Engagement Study is based on more than 27,000 responses from residential customers of 143 electric utilities that represent many of the industry’s leading electric utility brands. The study was fielded in January and February 2014.

For more:
– see J.D. Power’s nine best practices for customer engagement

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