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Customer Care - Most Likely to Succeed

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From ‘Class Clown’ to ‘Most Likely to Succeed,’ yearbook superlatives are the most talked about anecdotes for years.  While high school may have been a long time ago for utility executives and shareholders, younger customers are casting their vote, via Poll Daddy or Survey Monkey, on how well you're doing.  Utilities are gaining memorable industry recognition but for customers it’s more than a popularity contest. Were you voted, Best All-Around or Most Changed?  Fortune’s ‘World’s Most Admired Companies’ list is in.  How did you do?  The list is based on innovation, people management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management, financial soundness, long-term investment value, quality of products/services and global competitiveness.  A few key factors to note, businesses take advantage of utility online offerings and awareness boosts satisfaction.  The data reinforces the importance of communication for improved customer satisfaction.  The efforts to focus more on customers as individuals with different preferences and needs is paying off.  In recent years utilities have improved the customer experience by providing more options, implementing mobile communication and closing the generational gap for a younger customer base.  

Fortune’s ‘World’s Most Admired Companies’ for gas and power ranks NextEra, Xcel, Dominion, American Electric and Duke Energy as the top five utilities.  But how did they rank with customers?  According to the J.D. Power 2019 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study, overall business customer satisfaction with electric utilities has climbed significantly but the gap between the highest-ranking and lowest-ranking utilities has also grown this year.  "Electric utilities around the country have been ramping up their communications efforts, often addressing everything from mobile alerts about outages to updates on citizenship initiatives," said Adrian Chung, Director, Utilities Intelligence at J.D. Power. "Many top-performing utilities are getting that formula right, by visibly maintaining their infrastructure and leveraging technology to ensure businesses receive timely information needed to deal with outages and support decision-making. However, several utilities are still missing the mark by not focusing on these areas that drive customer satisfaction.”  

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) uses information based on interviews with hundreds of residential customers about recent experiences with their service provider to measure customer satisfaction.  Their data includes feedback from business and residential customers and covers cooperative, investor-owned, and municipal utilities.  According to ACSI, cooperative utilities continue to have the highest customer satisfaction.  Investor-owned utilities and municipal utilities each fell in satisfaction by 2.7 percent.  NextEra Energy gained a 1 percent uptick putting it head to head with Southern Company’s customer satisfaction rating.  Investor-owned utilities continue to struggle with ratings as customers complain about staff helpfulness, reliability, prolonged outages and website functionality.  Pointing to the benefits of communication, positive remarks were commonly made about mobile alerts for billing, outages, weather and conservation.  In this way, utilities are able to better accommodate the needs of a more modern clientele.  How is your utility improving the customer experience? Will improved platforms, routine transactions and self-service options make all the difference? What adjustments to customer service will get you a ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ vote?

Nevelyn Black's picture

Thank Nevelyn for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 24, 2020 1:19 pm GMT

Fortune’s ‘World’s Most Admired Companies’ for gas and power ranks NextEra, Xcel, Dominion, American Electric and Duke Energy as the top five utilities.  But how did they rank with customers?  According to the J.D. Power 2019 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study, overall business customer satisfaction with electric utilities has climbed significantly but the gap between the highest-ranking and lowest-ranking utilities has also grown this year

It makes sense that the companies ranked highly for most admired would be the larger utilities who have a bigger profile, but when it comes to customer satisfaction I'd be curious to see whether it's the larger or smaller companies who are able to get it right. Is it the large ones who have more resources to pour into the customer service side, or the smaller more community-based utilities who feel closer to the customer?

Nevelyn Black's picture
Nevelyn Black on Feb 11, 2020 6:15 pm GMT

Hi Matt, Good point regarding the smaller utilities.  Afraid I don't have those but J.D. Power Business Customer Overall Satisfaction with Electric Utilities does have ratings for midsize utilities (serving 40,000-84,999 business customers).  Here’s a link. https://www.jdpower.com/business/press-releases/2019-electric-utility-business-customer-satisfaction-study

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 11, 2020 10:36 pm GMT

Thanks Nevelyn!

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