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J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Overall Business Customer Satisfaction with Gas Utilities Declines from 2012 Driven by Decreases in Corporate Citizenship and Customer Service Satisfaction

CenterPoint Energy-Midwest; New Jersey Natural Gas; MidAmerican Energy; Southern California Gas Company; and South Carolina Electric & Gas Each Rank Highest in Their Respective Regions in Satisfying Gas Utility Business Customers

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., March 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Amid a reduction in local and customer-focused activities, overall customer satisfaction declines among business gas utility customers, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction StudySM released today.

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Now in its eighth year, the study measures business customer satisfaction with their gas utility company in four regions: East, Midwest, South and West. Satisfaction is measured by examining six factors: billing and payment; corporate citizenship; price; communications; customer service; and field service.

In 2013, overall satisfaction among business customers of gas utilities averages 657 (on a 1,000-point scale), a decrease of 17 points from 2012. Satisfaction declines in all six factors examined in the study, with the greatest declines occurring in corporate citizenship (down 22 points) and customer service (down 19 points). Communications declines the least in the 2013 study (down 13 points), primarily due to a decrease in customer recall of utility communications.

"Overall, there are fewer touches being made in corporate citizenship and in communications, which has negatively impacted customer satisfaction," said Chris Oberle, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "The customer-focused approach used to increase satisfaction in the 2012 study has somewhat waned, as utility companies receive lower awareness of their local support and economic development efforts this year."

The study finds that local and community efforts are also declining, directly impacting customer perception of corporate citizenship. Business customer awareness of utility efforts regarding environmental efforts declines to 31 percent in 2013, down from 38 percent in 2012. Additionally, customer awareness of a utility's local support and donations declines five percentage points year over year to 24 percent in 2013.

Online customer service, specifically ease of use, is contributing to a steep decline in overall customer service satisfaction.

"Customers are not satisfied with gas utility websites and find them difficult to use, increasing their time spent on the site to complete the desired action," said Oberle. "This dissatisfaction has led some business customers to drop electronic billing and online payments, deferring to the more traditional paper bill."

East Region
New Jersey Natural Gas ranks highest in satisfaction in the East region for a third consecutive year, with a score of 670. Following in the regional rankings are National Fuel Gas (668) and UGI (660).

Midwest Region
CenterPoint Energy-Midwest and MidAmerican Energy rank highest in satisfaction in the Midwest region, each achieving a score of 690. Following in the regional rankings is Xcel Energy - Midwest (669).

South Region
In the South region, South Carolina Electric & Gas ranks highest in satisfaction with a score of 725. PSNC Energy (702) and Oklahoma Natural Gas (693) follow in the regional rankings.

West Region
Southern California Gas Company ranks highest in satisfaction in the West region with a score of 691. Following in the regional rankings are Cascade Natural Gas (687) and NW Natural (685).

The 2013 Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study is based on online interviews with representatives of more than 10,100 U.S. businesses that spend $200 or more monthly on natural gas. More than 50 utility brands—each serving more than 25,000 business customers—are included in the study. The study was fielded from May to July 2012 and October to December 2012.


Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)


East Region

New Jersey Natural Gas

670

National Fuel Gas

668

UGI

660

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania

659

Washington Gas

655

Con Edison

647

BGE

646

East Region Average

644

PSE&G

641

National Grid

634

PECO

626

Philadelphia Gas Works

622


Midwest Region

CenterPoint Energy - Midwest

690

MidAmerican Energy

690

Xcel Energy - Midwest

669

Duke Energy

667

We Energies

665

Black Hills Energy

660

Columbia Gas of Ohio

654

Ameren Illinois Utilities

653

Alliant Energy

651

Atmos Energy - Midwest

650

Vectren

648

Midwest Region Average

647

Kansas Gas Service

643

Missouri Gas Energy

636

NIPSCO

634

Consumers Energy

633

DTE Energy

633

Laclede Gas

633

Louisville Gas & Electric

628

Peoples Gas

617

Nicor Gas

616

Wisconsin Public Service

611


South Region

South Carolina Electric & Gas

725

PSNC Energy

702

Oklahoma Natural Gas

693

CenterPoint Energy - South

680

Alagasco

678

South Region Average

677

Piedmont Natural Gas

673

Atmos Energy - South

664

Texas Gas Service

663


West Region

Southern California Gas Company

691

Cascade Natural Gas

687

NW Natural

685

Southwest Gas

668

West Region Average

663

San Diego Gas & Electric

662

Avista Utilities

658

Questar Gas

657

Pacific Gas and Electric

652

Xcel Energy - West

644

Puget Sound Energy

638

New Mexico Gas Company

612



NOTE:

Included in the study but not ranked due to small sample size are Intermountain Gas Company, Montana-Dakota Utilities, and NorthWestern Energy

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing forecasting, performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), a financial intelligence and education company, signed an agreement to sell its McGraw-Hill Education business to investment funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management, LLC in November 2012. Following the sale closing, expected in early 2013, the Company will be renamed McGraw Hill Financial (subject to shareholder approval) and will be a powerhouse in benchmarks, content and analytics for the global capital and commodity markets. The Company's leading brands will include: Standard & Poor's, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Dow Jones Indices, Platts, Crisil, J.D. Power and Associates, McGraw-Hill Construction and Aviation Week. The Company will have approximately 17,000 employees in more than 30 countries. Additional information is available at www.mcgraw-hill.com.

Media Relations Contacts:
Jeff Perlman; Brandware Public Relations; Woodland Hills, Calif.; (818) 598-1115; jperlman@brandwarepr.com
John Tews; J.D. Power and Associates; Troy, Mich.; (248) 680-6218; john.tews@jdpa.com 

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. www.jdpower.com/corporate

SOURCE J.D. Power and Associates



RELATED LINKS
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