WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 13 March 2013 — Amid a reduction in local and customer-focused activities, overall customer satisfaction declines among business gas utility customers, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction StudySM released today.
- More than one-half (51%) of business customers now have an online account.
- Fewer customers use electronic billing in 2013 (29%), compared with 2012 (35%).
- Online first-contact problem resolution is 68 percent, down from 76 percent in 2012.
Now in its eighth year, the study measures business customer satisfaction with their gas utility company in four regions: East, Midwest, South and West. Satisfaction is measured by examining six factors: billing and payment; corporate citizenship; price; communications; customer service; and field service.
In 2013, overall satisfaction among business customers of gas utilities averages 657 (on a 1,000-point scale), a decrease of 17 points from 2012. Satisfaction declines in all six factors examined in the study, with the greatest declines occurring in corporate citizenship (down 22 points) and customer service (down 19 points). Communications declines the least in the 2013 study (down 13 points), primarily due to a decrease in customer recall of utility communications.
"Overall, there are fewer touches being made in corporate citizenship and in communications, which has negatively impacted customer satisfaction," said Chris Oberle, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "The customer-focused approach used to increase satisfaction in the 2012 study has somewhat waned, as utility companies receive lower awareness of their local support and economic development efforts this year."
The study finds that local and community efforts are also declining, directly impacting customer perception of corporate citizenship. Business customer awareness of utility efforts regarding environmental efforts declines to 31 percent in 2013, down from 38 percent in 2012. Additionally, customer awareness of a utility's local support and donations declines five percentage points year over year to 24 percent in 2013.
Online customer service, specifically ease of use, is contributing to a steep decline in overall customer service satisfaction.
"Customers are not satisfied with gas utility websites and find them difficult to use, increasing their time spent on the site to complete the desired action," said Oberle. "This dissatisfaction has led some business customers to drop electronic billing and online payments, deferring to the more traditional paper bill."
New Jersey Natural Gas ranks highest in satisfaction in the East region for a third consecutive year, with a score of 670. Following in the regional rankings are National Fuel Gas (668) and UGI (660).
CenterPoint Energy-Midwest and MidAmerican Energy rank highest in satisfaction in the Midwest region, each achieving a score of 690. Following in the regional rankings is Xcel Energy - Midwest (669).
In the South region, South Carolina Electric & Gas ranks highest in satisfaction with a score of 725. PSNC Energy (702) and Oklahoma Natural Gas (693) follow in the regional rankings.
Southern California Gas Company ranks highest in satisfaction in the West region with a score of 691. Following in the regional rankings are Cascade Natural Gas (687) and NW Natural (685).
The 2013 Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study is based on online interviews with representatives of more than 10,100 U.S. businesses that spend $200 or more monthly on natural gas. More than 50 utility brands—each serving more than 25,000 business customers—are included in the study. The study was fielded from May to July 2012 and October to 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.
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