Magazine article CRM Magazine

Despite Outages, Customer Satisfaction with Electric Utilities Brightens: Improved Communication in Web Self-Service and Proactive Outreach Have Bolstered Customer Sentiment, According to a J.D. Power Study

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Despite Outages, Customer Satisfaction with Electric Utilities Brightens: Improved Communication in Web Self-Service and Proactive Outreach Have Bolstered Customer Sentiment, According to a J.D. Power Study

Article excerpt

Utilities have reported longer outages as a result of severe weather across the United States, but customer satisfaction with service providers has increased in the past year, according to the 2013 J.D. Power & Associates Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study. Overall satisfaction increased substantially in 2013, to 639 (on a 1,000-point scale), up 14 points from 2012.

Major reasons for the industry-wide surge were improvements in billing/payment, price, and customer notifications, according to the J.D. Power research. Electric utilities nationwide have improved their outage communications before, during, and after outages, which J.D. Power finds has a direct link to customer satisfaction levels. The utilities have gotten adept at proactively communicating outage information regularly and clearly via their customers' preferred channels, including phone calls, email, text messages, and social media sites, according to the research firm.

The study states that utilities increased their number of communications with customers regarding lengthy outages in 2013. The most satisfying sources of outage information were email (762), text messages (736), social media sites (724), and phone calls (718).

The J.D. Power study based its overall industry evaluations on six criteria: power quality and reliability; price; billing and payment; corporate citizenship; communications; and customer service.

In 2013, billing and payment satisfaction increased by 19 points, to 719, the largest increase among the six factors. According to the study, satisfaction increases when customers are offered a choice in how they receive bills and make payments.

Satisfaction scores in price rose 12 points, to 551. This comes as customers reported lower average monthly bills. Monthly payments in 2013 averaged $132, down $3 per month from 2012.

Power quality and reliability rose 15 points, to 692. …

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