COSTA MESA, Calif., Feb. 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Gas utility business customer satisfaction scores reached the highest levels ever measured by J.D. Power in its 2016 Calendar-Year Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study,SM released today. The key drivers of improvement in customer satisfaction were increased use of online chat and email customer service functionality and proactive outreach and utility visibility around safety issues.
On a 1,000-point scale, scores in the safety and reliability and billing and payment factors were 802 and 800, respectively. Both show marked improvements over previous study periods. A total of 76% of business customers said their gas utility was either somewhat helpful (47%) or very helpful (29%) in preparing for safety issues. Overall satisfaction among customers who indicated their utility was helpful was 173 points higher than among those who said their utility was not helpful.
"Effective communication is everything when it comes to utility customer satisfaction," said Carl Lepper, senior industry analyst, utility & infrastructure practice at J.D. Power. "The phenomenon is most pronounced when dealing with safety issues, but even with more routine tasks like billing inquiries and alerts, participation in community events, and media appearances, we're consistently seeing higher overall satisfactions scores when utilities are most proficient at communicating with their customers across a number of different channels."
Following are additional findings of the 2016 Calendar-Year Study:
- Digital Communications Critical: The customer service channel driving the sharpest increase in satisfaction was online interaction, with the channel accounting for a 39-point improvement in customer satisfaction scores from the previous study. Additionally, electronic billing and use of automated bill alerts were found to be key variables driving an increase in business customer satisfaction.
- Corporate Citizenship Is Felt Locally: Support for local economic development programs had the highest recall of all corporate citizenship initiatives among business customers, outranking energy efficiency programs and environmental efforts. Recall of these programs has a significant effect on business customers' satisfaction.
- Media Perceptions Matter: Positive stories about a gas utility in the press have a significant impact on customer satisfaction. Satisfaction among customers who recalled a positive media story about their utility was 793 vs. 776 among those who recalled a communication from the utility itself. The flip-side is also true. Among customers who recalled a negative media story about their utility, scores fell to 667.
The industry results for the 2016 Calendar-Year Study are reported across four U.S. geographic regions: East, Midwest, South and West. The following utilities rank highest in customer satisfaction in their respective region:
- East Region: Con Edison
- Midwest Region: Louisville Gas & Electric
- South Region: TECO Peoples Gas
- West Region: NW Natural
Now in its 11th year, the Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study measures business customer satisfaction with gas utility companies in four regions: East, Midwest, South and West. Each of the 61 brands included in the study serve more than 25,000 business customers, representing more than 4 million business customers in total. Overall satisfaction is measured by examining six factors (listed in order of importance): safety and reliability (25%); billing and payment (17%); corporate citizenship (15%); customer service (15%); price (15%); and communications (13%).
The study has been restructured for 2016 and now includes safety and reliability as one of the primary factors contributing to business customer satisfaction. Overall customer satisfaction is 774. The study is based on responses from more than 10,000 online interviews with business customers who spend at least $150 monthly on gas. The study was fielded from March-July 2016 and August-December 2016.
For more information about the U.S. 2016 Calendar-Year Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study, visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/us-gas-utility-business-customer-satisfaction-study.
See the online press release at http://www.jdpower.com/pr-id/2017012.
J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. Those capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power is headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., and has offices serving North/South America, Asia Pacific and Europe.
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SOURCE J.D. Power