J.D. Power has released its 2017 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study,SM, which shows customer satisfaction has increased for the sixth consecutive year on a nationwide basis.
“The residential gas utility industry has committed significant resources to customer engagement, dramatically increasing the number of communication channels they use and consistently positioning themselves as advocates of safety who are here to help customers,” said Carl Lepper, Utility Industry Analyst at J.D. Power. “That work is paying off in the form of consistently improving customer satisfaction scores that are being driven by perceptions of increased safety and reliability.”
The study, now in its 16th year, ranks large and midsize utility companies in four geographic regions: East, Midwest, South and West. Companies in the midsize utility segment serve between 125,000 and 399,000 residential customers, and companies in the large utility segment serve 400,000 or more residential customers.
According to this year’s results, the following utilities rank highest in customer satisfaction in their respective regions:
- East Large: New Jersey Natural Gas
- East Midsize: Elizabethtown Gas
- Midwest Large: MidAmerican Energy
- Midwest Midsize: Alliant Energy
- South Large: Atmos Energy/CenterPoint Energy
- South Midsize: TECO Peoples Gas
- West Large: NW Natural
- West Midsize: Intermountain Gas Company
Other key findings include:
- Customer satisfaction trending significantly higher: Overall satisfaction in the 2017 study is 29 index points higher (on a 1,000-point scale) than in the 2016 study. This is the sixth consecutive year of customer satisfaction performance improvement for the residential gas utility industry.
- Perception of safety is key to customer satisfaction: Gas utility efforts to advocate for safety have a positive impact on customer satisfaction, with satisfaction 88 index points higher among customers who had a safety inspection conducted by their utility than among those who did not receive an inspection. Likewise, satisfaction among customers who say their gas utility was “very helpful” or “somewhat helpful” in preparing for a safety issue is 150 points higher than among those who say their utility was “not very helpful” or “not at all helpful.”
- Digital communication channels and alerts drive customer engagement: Digital customer alerts from the utility addressing everything from usage to severe weather to emergencies, such as a natural gas leak, are being adopted widely by utility customers. Communication satisfaction among customers who indicate receiving one of these alerts is 104 index points higher than among those who did not receive an alert.
- Proactive communications regarding service interruptions improve customer satisfaction: Overall customer satisfaction scores are higher when residential customers experience an interruption but are alerted to it in advance than when they do not experience any service interruptions at all.
The 2017 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 61,000 online interviews conducted between September 2016 and July 2017 among residential customers of 85 large and midsize gas utility brands across the continental United States.