Special Programs Drive Satisfaction But Few Utility Customers Participate

June 28, 2017
'Electric utilities are sitting on a treasure trove of customer goodwill in the form of special programs,'

Special programs offered by electric utilities—such as rebates on high-efficiency lightbulbs—drive significant increases in utility customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power 2017 Utility Products and Services Study, released late last month. However, awareness and participation rates for many of these programs remain stubbornly low.

“The nation’s electric utilities are sitting on a treasure trove of customer goodwill in the form of special programs,” said Adrian Chung, director of the utility practice at J.D. Power. “But a great deal of that potential is going unclaimed by customers who are either unaware of or unwilling to avail themselves of these offerings. Efforts spent increasing customer awareness for these programs could pay dividends down the road in the form of higher overall customer satisfaction.”

The study, now in its fifth year, measures the level of residential customers’ engagement with their electric utility’s programs, products and services and is based on responses from customers of electric utilities throughout the United States. The study provides electric utilities with insights into customer awareness, familiarity and usage of their utility’s programs, products and services; ease of enrollment and participation in these offerings; and the effect these offerings have on the overall customer experience.

Following are key findings of the 2017 study:

  • Mere awareness increases customer satisfaction: Satisfaction among electric residential customers who are aware of products and services offered by their local utility is 79 points higher than among those customers who are unaware of such programs.
  • Participation rates still low: Just 18% of electric residential customers participate in special programs offered by their utility. More customers are aware of the programs, but do not participate (49%), and a sizable percentage (33% residential) are not aware of the programs at all.
  • Most desirable offerings vary by region: The most desirable single product or service among electric residential customers in the East, South and West regions is peak time savings. In the Midwest, high-efficiency lightbulb rebates are at the top of the wish list.
  • Businesses show greater awareness and satisfaction: Across virtually every category measured, business customers show higher overall awareness (56%); participation levels (29%); and levels of satisfaction than do residential customers—107 points higher among those customers who are aware.

The  2017 Utility Products and Services Study is based on more than 52,000 responses from residential customers of 138 electric utilities throughout the United States that represent nearly all of the industry’s largest electric utility brands by number of customers served. The study was fielded in July-August 2016 and January-February 2017.

For more information about the J.D. Power Utility Products and Services Study, visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/jd-power-utility-products-and-services-study.

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