WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 11 February 2015 — Interaction with a customer service representative on the phone has driven satisfaction up significantly among gas utility business customers; however, self-directed service channels are less impactful, according to the J.D. Power 2015 Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction StudySM released today.
Now in its 10th year, the study measures satisfaction among business customers with their gas utility company in four regions: East, Midwest, South and West. Each of the 52 brands included in the study serve at least 25,000 business customers, or 3.4 million in total. Overall satisfaction is measured by examining six factors: billing and payment; corporate citizenship; price; communications; customer service; and field service. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.
Overall customer service satisfaction is 695, an 8-point improvement from 687 in 2014. Satisfaction with customer service when using the self-directed online channel remains relatively flat from 2014 (787 vs. 785, respectively). However, satisfaction among customers who use the live phone channel to interact with a representative has improved by 13 points to 758 from 745. Notably, satisfaction ratings improve for a majority of attributes that comprise the customer service factor, including courtesy of the representative (+0.15 point on a 10-point scale); the representative’s concern for customer needs (+0.14); the timeliness of resolving the problem, question, or request (+0.14); and promptness in speaking to a person (+0.12).
“It’s good to see that problem resolution and customer service satisfaction have improved among customers who speak with phone reps. While this may be a high-quality interaction, this can be an inefficient use of resources for gas utilities of all sizes,” said John Hazen, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power. “Gas utilities need to focus their attention on improving the self-directed customer service channels for their business customers. Providing a robust and effective IVR and website to business customers enables them to address issues on their own, which can help increase customer satisfaction and save time and money for the utility.”
- Satisfaction improves in each of the six factors year over year: billing and payment (+14 points); field service (+14); communications (+10); customer service (+8); corporate citizenship (+8); and price (+6).
- When billing statements contain useful information such as graphs or pictures, customer satisfaction with billing and payment is higher than when statements do not include such information (770 vs. 697, respectively).
- The percentage of business customers who say they recall a communication from their gas utility has increased this year to 56 percent, up 6 percentage points from 2014.
PSE&G ranks highest in overall satisfaction in the East region with a score of 690, followed by BGE and National Fuel Gas in a tie with 688, and UGI with 682.
DTE Energy (723) ranks highest in overall satisfaction in the Midwest region, followed by MidAmerican Energy (713) and Black Hills Energy (711).
Alagasco (736) ranks highest among gas utilities in the South region. Oklahoma Natural Gas (733) ranks second, followed by Atmos Energy (724).
Questar Gas ranks highest in satisfaction in the West region, with a score of 730. Following in the regional rankings are NW Natural (722) and Southwest Gas (716).
The 2015 Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 9,200 online interviews with business customers who spend at least $150 monthly on gas. The study was fielded from April through July 2014 and August through December 2014.
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