Overall Business Customer Satisfaction with Electric Utility Companies Declines, Despite Improved Communications to Businesses during Power Outages

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 13 February 2013 Business customer satisfaction with electric utility communications increases, while overall satisfaction declines, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction StudySM released today.

Key Findings

  • Utility blogs (772) and text messages (768) are the highest satisfaction-generating communications methods vs. other communication types (618).
  • Customer service phone satisfaction is 750 for first call problem resolution compared with non-resolved issues (423).
  • 17% of business customers accessed their utility website via a tablet/smartphone.

The study is based on interviews with representatives of more than 25,700 U.S. businesses that spend at least $250 monthly on electricity. More than 90 utility brands serving a total of more than 11.7 million business customers are included in the study. Overall customer satisfaction is measured by examining six factors: power quality and reliability; billing and payment; corporate citizenship; price; communications; and customer service.

Overall satisfaction among electric utility business customers averages 647 (on a 1,000-point scale), decreasing by 10 points from 2012. Satisfaction decreases in all factors except communications, which increases by four points year over year. The largest decreases in satisfaction are in customer service (down 18 points); corporate citizenship (down 18); and billing and payment (down 15).
 
"Even with the multiple weather events and an increase in the average outage time, satisfaction with power quality and reliability has decreased only three points," said John Hazen, senior director of the energy utility practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "In addition to customer service, the area in which utilities are facing significant criticism is in corporate citizenship, where business customers are critical of utility efforts to develop energy supply plans for the future as well as utilities showing business leadership in local communities."  

However, positively impacting satisfaction with power quality and reliability, electric utility companies are demonstrating new ways to ensure open lines of communication with their customers by offering service outage updates via text messaging, social media and email, which yield significantly higher satisfaction levels than any other outage communication type.

In addition to providing information through multiple channels, electric utility companies are also proactively communicating with their business customers during outages, which positively impacts satisfaction as well. Power quality and reliability satisfaction among the 11 percent of business customers who received proactive communications from their utility during an outage is 754, compared with 654 among those who received no communications from their utility.

Study Rankings

Within each of the four geographic regions included in the study, utility providers are classified into one of two segments: large (serving 85,000 or more business customers) and midsize (serving between 25,000 and 84,999 business customers). Rankings within each region and segment are as follows:

East Region
PPL Electric Utilities ranks highest among large electric utility providers in the East Region with a score of 664. Among midsize electric utilities in the East Region, Central Maine Power (654) ranks highest for the second consecutive year.

Midwest Region
In the Midwest Region, We Energies (669) ranks highest among large electric utilities, while Indianapolis Power & Light Company ranks highest among midsize brands with a score of 676.

South Region
Georgia Power (695) ranks highest among large utilities in the South Region. Among midsize electric utilities, Entergy Texas ranks highest with a score of 687.

West Region
Portland General Electric (694) ranks highest among large electric utilities in the West Region. Among midsize electric utility providers, Seattle City Light ranks highest (689).

The 2013 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 25,700 online interviews with business customers of the 95 largest utility brands throughout the United States. The study was fielded from April through June 2012 and September through December 2012.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing forecasting, 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. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), a financial intelligence and education company, signed an agreement to sell its McGraw-Hill Education business to investment funds affiliated with Apollo Global Management, LLC in November 2012. Following the sale closing, expected in early 2013, the Company will be renamed McGraw Hill Financial (subject to shareholder approval) and will be a powerhouse in benchmarks, content and analytics for the global capital and commodity markets. The Company's leading brands will include: Standard & Poor's, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Dow Jones Indices, Platts, Crisil, J.D. Power and Associates, McGraw-Hill Construction and Aviation Week. The Company will have approximately 17,000 employees in more than 30 countries.  Additional information is available at www.mcgraw-hill.com.

Media Relations Contacts:

Jeff Perlman; Brandware Public Relations; Woodland Hills, Calif.; (818) 598-1115; jperlman@brandwarepr.com
Syvetril Perryman; Westlake Village, Calif.; (805) 418-8103; media.relations@jdpa.com

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No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. www.jdpower.com/corporate

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