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Electric utilities in the US have increased overall customer satisfaction by 10 points from 2016 levels.This is according to an online survey, Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction study, comprising 19,000 consumers with monthly energy bills above $200. The study was conducted by J.D Power between February and October with customers across 87 utilities, all of whom have more than 40,000 consumers.

The study analysed customer satisfaction on power quality and reliability, corporate citizenship, price, billing and payment, communications and customer service.

John Hazen, director of Utility Practice at J.D Power, said: "Electric utilities are rapidly upping the ante on customer communications, setting an example for other service industries by demonstrating that it is possible to dramatically improve customer satisfaction by actively engaging across a number of channels.

"While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success, electric utility leaders are finding that a steady combination of proactive outreach through a mix of digital, mobile, community events, and dedicated account representative touch points can drive a strong positive perception of their brands."

According to the study:

  • Overall customer satisfaction among electric utility business customers has improved for the fifth consecutive year to a record high of 765 (on a 1,000 point scale). Satisfaction improved in each of the six factors, with the largest year-over-year increases in billing and payment (+13) and communications (+13).
  • Customer satisfaction improving industry-wide: The top 5 brands in the study all earn overall customer satisfaction scores in the 800s, compared to only one brand in the previous year results. Moreover, the gap between the top performer and bottom performer in the study has narrowed to just 111 points, down from 118 last year.
  • Fewer power outages and more proactive alerts: The average number of brief power outage (five minutes or less) falls from 1.9 in 2016 to 1.7 this year. The average number of lengthy outages (longer than five minutes) is unchanged at 1.2. Utilities are doing a better job of communicating planned outages with 82% of customers being notified ahead of time, versus 78% last year.
  • More customers interacting with utilities via mobile device: Business customers are increasingly relying on mobile devices to access their electric utility's website, with 26% of respondents indicating that they accessed the utility via mobile in 2017, up from 18% the previous year.
  • Dedicated account representatives play a key role in satisfaction equation: The average overall satisfaction score for business customers who have a dedicated account representative is 824, 9 points higher than 2016 (815) and 85 points higher than those without a dedicated account representative (739).

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