(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction? Communicate.
The J.D. Power 2019 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study, a nationwide survey based on responses from more than 21,000 large and midsize utility customers, is out.
Business customers and members of rural coops and munis care about the same issues as those of larger IOUs—power quality and reliability, corporate citizenship, price, billing and payment, communications, and customer service—so the results matter to all utilities.
Here are some insights from utilities that took action to boost satisfaction for their business customers:
- Proactively alert customers to power outages and estimated restoration times. Even when it’s bad news, they appreciate the heads-up so they can activate contingency plans.
- Communicate efforts to maintain—or improve—infrastructure. Otherwise, customers assume their utility doesn’t do any maintenance.
- Keep moving forward with environmental initiatives, even if it seems that few care. When business customers learn about how their utility helps protect the environment and restore native fish and wildlife, it’s associated with a significant increase in the utility’s corporate citizen satisfaction score.
- Create a robust online experience. Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of large and midsize utility business customers have an online account, and they’re the ones who are more likely to sign up for alerts about outages, weather, and billing that help to build relationships and increase satisfaction.
Results from the J.D. Power survey clearly demonstrate that customers reward utilities that communicate, especially when sharing bad news.
Last year, a PwC study (quoting data from J.D. Power) we reviewed here showed that utilities with higher levels of customer satisfaction perform better during rate cases, providing a higher rate of regulatory return.
For most munis and coops, building relationships and fostering a sense of community is easier than it is for larger IOUs because they can do it on a smaller scale. That’s why we hope that communications play an important role in your 2020 business planning.