Alabama Power is first among large utilities in the South in the J.D. Power 2017 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study, receiving the highest score for a utility in the nation among the four regions.
“Electric utilities are rapidly upping the ante on customer communications, setting an example for other service industries by demonstrating that it is possible to dramatically improve customer satisfaction by actively engaging across a number of channels,” said John Hazen, director of Utility Practice at J.D. Power.
“While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success, electric utility leaders are finding that a steady combination of proactive outreach through a mix of digital, mobile, community events, and dedicated account representative touch points can drive a strong positive perception of their brands,” Hazen added.
The study, now in its 19th year, measures customer satisfaction by examining six factors:
- Power quality and reliability
- Billing and payment
- Corporate citizenship
- Customer service.
Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale. Alabama Power ranked first scoring 819 points, followed by sister utility Georgia Power (801), Florida Power & Light (789), Dominion Virginia Power (784), Duke Energy Progress (780), Duke Energy Florida (771), South Carolina Electric & Gas (771), Duke Energy Carolinas (769), Entergy Arkansas (763), Entergy Louisiana (759) and OG&E (759).
Alabama Power is among five utilities to ever score above 800 in the study.
“Alabama Power has for more than a century put customers at the center of everything we do, and today we are focused on finding even more and better ways to serve our customers,” said Greg Barker, Alabama Power executive vice president for customer services. “This recognition is a testament to all the men and women at Alabama Power who make customer satisfaction a top priority.”
Overall satisfaction for utilities averaged 765 points in 2017, a 10-point improvement from 2016, said Hazen. Improvements were found in each of the six factors, with the largest year-over-year increases in billing & payment (+13) and communications (+13).
The study found fewer power outages and more proactive alerts around planned outages from utilities. The average number of brief power outages (five minutes or less) fell from 1.9 in calendar year 2016 to 1.7 this year. The average number of lengthy outages (longer than five minutes) is unchanged at 1.2. Utilities are doing a better job of communicating planned outages with 82 percent of customers being notified ahead of time, versus 78 percent last year.
More business customers are interacting with utilities through mobile devices, according to the study, with 26 percent of those surveyed saying they accessed their utility via mobile in 2017, up from 18 percent in 2016.
Dedicated account representatives also play a key role in customer satisfaction, with the study finding the average overall satisfaction score for business customers who have dedicated account representatives is 85 points higher than those without.
The study is based on responses from more 19,000 online interviews with business customers who spend at least $200 a month on electricity. The study was fielded from February through June 2017 and July through October 2017.
Headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics.