ACSI: Customer Satisfaction with Utilities Inches Up in Competitive Energy Landscape

According to ACSI’s 2018 Utilities Report, despite rapid advances in the energy industry throughout 2017, customer satisfaction with gas and electric providers inched up only 0.4 percent to a score of 75.2 (on a 100-point scale).

The ACSI results include cooperative, investor-owned, and municipal utilities, the last of which drove the 2017 uptick. Municipal utilities averaged a score of 75, an increase of 4.2 percent. Cooperative utilities averaged a score of 77, a decline of 1.3 percent, the top score among the three categories. Investor-owned utilities’ average score held steady at 75.

“Energy suppliers face an increasingly competitive landscape,” said David VanAmburg, Managing Director at ACSI. “The emergence of distributed generation, the rise of renewable energy sources, and the relatively low cost of natural gas are starting to shift the tides. Municipal utilities have the advantage of lower residential rates and greater investments in renewable energy, which are translating to more reliable service, quicker restoration following outages, and as a result, increasing customer satisfaction.”

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Across all utilities, residential customers found billing harder to understand and staff less courteous and helpful.
  • Residents wanted more energy-saving information and green programs.
  • Customers reported that across the sector, electric service is reliable, restorations after outages have improved, and they’re more satisfied with utilities’ websites.

“Utilities can’t control the weather, but they can control the flow of information and the quality of information consumers receive, especially around outages,” said VanAmburg. “In addition to service updates, utilities can use their websites to offer the information on energy-saving opportunities and green efforts that customers are seeking.”

The ACSI Utilities report is based on 15,116 customer surveys collected between Jan. 5, 2017 and Dec. 13, 2017. It’s part of a larger Utilities, Shipping and Health Care report released annually.

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