Satisfaction rebounds for gas utility businesses from 2013 driven by increases in proactive communication, according to the J.D. Power 2014 Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study.
Now in its ninth year, the study measures customer satisfaction among business customers with their gas utility company in four regions: East, Midwest, South and West. Each of the 54 brands included in the study serve at least 25,000 business customers, or 3.5 million in total. Overall satisfaction is measured by examining six factors:
- billing & payment
- corporate citizenship
- customer service
- field service
- Overall satisfaction among gas utility business customers averages 687 (on a 1,000-point scale), a 30-point improvement from 657 in 2013. Satisfaction improves in each of the six factors year over year, with the greatest increase in price (+36 points), followed by corporate citizenship (+33) and communications (+31).
- Proactive communication via channels that gas business customers prefer drives satisfaction. On average, the number of proactive customer contacts such as an in-person visit, telephone call or email from a utility representative has increased to 3.1 from 2.7 during the past six months.
- Preferred customer service channels include communication from their utility by email (30%); from their assigned account representative (30%); or by calling a business services center phone number (16%). Recollection of communication via a utility's digital channels including website, blog, social media, email or text message has increased to 35 percent from 31 percent in 2013.
- Awareness of a utility's corporate citizenship efforts remains an important driver of satisfaction, with 28 percent of gas business customers indicating they are aware of their utility's donations and sponsorships, compared with 24 percent in 2013. Additionally, awareness of utility employees volunteering/working in a community rises to 26 percent from 22 percent year over year.
Washington Gas ranks highest in overall satisfaction in the East region with a score of 705, followed by PECO with 694 and Con Edison with 693.
MidAmerican Energy (712) ranks highest for a second consecutive year. Following in the rankings are Xcel Energy-Midwest (698) and Laclede Gas (697).
Oklahoma Natural Gas (737) ranks highest among gas utilities in the South region for the first time. South Carolina Electric & Gas (731) ranks second, followed by Texas Gas Service (714).
Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) ranks highest in satisfaction for a second consecutive year in the West region, with a score of 722. Following in the regional rankings are NW Natural (710) and Questar Gas is tied with Southwest Gas (705).
The 2014 Gas Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 9,500 online interviews with business customers who spend at least $200 monthly on gas. The study was fielded from May through July 2013 and October through December 2013.