WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif: 18 September 2013 — Lower monthly bills and better communication from utility companies are helping lift customer satisfaction with their natural gas provider, according to the J.D. Power 2013 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction StudySM released today.
The study, now in its 12th year, measures residential customer satisfaction with gas utility companies across six factors: billing and payment; price; corporate citizenship; communications; customer service; and field service.
- Overall satisfaction with natural gas utility companies averages 640 in 2013.
- On average, monthly gas bills are $75, down from $98 in 2009.
- Satisfaction is significantly higher among customers who are aware of their gas provider's energy-saving programs than among those who are not aware of these programs.
Overall satisfaction with natural gas utility companies averages 640 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2013, up from 634 in 2012 and a 24-point increase from 616 in 2009.
The increase in overall customer satisfaction is due in part to lower gas prices, with customers paying an average monthly bill of $75, down from $78 in 2012 and $98 in 2009. As a result, residential gas customer satisfaction with price averages 587, a 17-point increase from 2012.
The study finds that gas utility companies are communicating more effectively with their customers, specifically regarding their energy-saving programs. One-third (33%) of customers are aware of their utility's energy-efficiency programs, an increase from 27 percent in 2012. Overall satisfaction among customers who say they are "very familiar" with the conservation programs offered by their utility is 107 points higher than among those who say they are "somewhat familiar" with these programs and 225 points higher than among those who say they are "not at all" aware.
"Monthly gas bills are the lowest we've seen in years, and the gas utility companies are effectively communicating with their customers regarding conserving energy and saving money," said Jeff Conklin, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power. "That's the perfect recipe for higher satisfaction."
Corporate Citizenship and Satisfaction
Gas utility companies that are involved in the local community have more satisfied customers, provided their customers are aware of the efforts. For example, overall satisfaction among the 11 percent of customers who are aware of their gas utility company employees' volunteer efforts in the local community is 758, compared with 576 among those who are not aware of the volunteer efforts. Moreover, satisfaction among the 21 percent of customers who are aware of their gas provider's environmental efforts is 152 points higher than among those who are not aware.
"Communication is better than ever, but there is still room for improvement," said Conklin. "Making customers aware of what their utility is doing in the local community, from supporting local development to making financial donations, demonstrates how gas providers are giving back and helps increase overall customer satisfaction."
The study ranks large and midsize utility companies in four geographic regions: East, Midwest, South and West. Companies in the midsize utility segment serve between 165,000 and 399,999 residential customers, while companies in the large utility segment serve 400,000 or more residential customers.
Among large utilities in the East region, UGI ranks highest with a score of 652. Following in the segment rankings are New Jersey Natural Gas (648) and National Fuel Gas (641).
In the East region midsize utility segment, South Jersey Gas ranks highest (642), followed by Rochester Gas & Electric (641) and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania (627).
MidAmerican Energy ranks highest among large utilities in the Midwest region for a second consecutive year, with a score of 670. DTE Energy ranks second (660) and Columbia Gas of Ohio ranks third (646).
Among midsize utilities in the Midwest region, Citizens Energy Group ranks highest for a second consecutive year, with a score of 642. Alliant Energy ranks second (639), followed by Duke Energy and Metropolitan Utilities District in a tie (637 each).
Oklahoma Natural Gas ranks highest in the large utility segment in the South region for a second consecutive year, with a score of 669. CenterPoint Energy-South ranks second (663) and Texas Gas Service ranks third (662).
Among midsize utilities in the South region, TECO Peoples Gas ranks highest with a score of 655. Following in the segment rankings are Virginia Natural Gas (654) and CPS Energy (651).
NW Natural ranks highest among large utilities in the West region with a score of 676. Following in the segment rankings are Southern California Gas Company (670) and Questar Gas (652).
Among midsize utilities in the West region, Cascade Natural Gas and Intermountain Gas Company rank highest in a tie at 655 each. Colorado Springs Utilities ranks third at 653.
The 2013 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on more than 64,600 responses from residential customers of the 74 largest gas utilities across the continental United States. The study was fielded between September 2012 and July 2013.
About J.D. Power
J.D. Power is a global marketing information services company providing 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. Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power has offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power is a business unit of McGraw-Hill Financial.
About McGraw Hill Financial
McGraw Hill Financial (NYSE: MHFI) is a leading financial intelligence company providing the global capital and commodity markets with independent benchmarks, credit ratings, portfolio and enterprise risk solutions, and analytics. The Company's iconic brands include: Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Dow Jones Indices, Platts, CRISIL, J.D. Power, and McGraw Hill Construction. The Company has approximately 17,000 employees in 27 countries. Additional information is available at www.mhfi.com.
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