Utility customer satisfaction has reached a record high according to new research. The research shows that electric and natural gas utilities post an all-time high score of 767 (on a 1,000-point maximum scale). However, there is a huge 138-point difference between the highest- and lowest-scoring utilities because the best utilities have created experiences with customer ease and convenience in mind.
More than 80% of Service Satisfaction scoring is derived from how easy it is for customers to do business with their utility, which is why industry leaders on the Service Satisfaction index also post the best scores on the Customer Effort index measurement. This means that utilities focusing solely on traditional service and satisfaction metrics will likely fall behind those that have also made it easy for customers to do business with them.
These findings are from the latest release of the Cogent Reports' 2017 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement: Residential study offered by Market Strategies International. The Service Satisfaction index comprises utility customer ratings on safety, reliability, billing, payment, and customer and field service among 130 electric and natural gas utilities. The Customer Effort index is a modeled measure of how easy it is to interact with utilities across a number of utility-customer touchpoints.
“Utilities deserve accolades for the great work they have done improving operations. But customer expectations continue to grow each time utilities improve service,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Market Strategies. “The next challenge for utility managers is to create convenient and easy experiences for customers. The best utilities are conducting customer journey and touchpoint enhancements that reduce customers’ efforts.”
Other significant utility service insights include:
- Satisfaction with outage handling has increased significantly for electric utilities.
- Satisfaction with safety events has increased significantly for natural gas utilities.
- Only 10% of customers think their utility can keep its system safe from cyber or terrorist attacks.
- 40% of customers think their utility can keep their personal information safe.
- 85% of low-income customers do or want to select their own payment due date.
- Paper bills remain the most-used billing channel while digital payment offerings cannibalize each other, with mobile payments gaining share over online and electronic billing.
- Email and phone are the most preferred customer service channels at most utilities.