WAPA customer Salt River Project (SRP) once again earned a top spot on the J.D. Power 2016 Calendar-Year Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study, released Jan. 11. This is the fourth consecutive year and the seventh time in the last eight years SRP ranked highest in customer satisfaction for business electric service among large electricity providers in the West Region. The region covers Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
SRP’s overall customer satisfaction index was 797 out of a possible 1,000 points in the annual study – a 50-point performance increase from last year. The study examines overall satisfaction across six factors (in order of importance): power quality and reliability; corporate citizenship; price; billing and payment; communications and customer service. SRP scored highest in its category in power quality and reliability, corporate citizenship, billing and payment and communications.
According to the study, utilities are becoming more aware of the importance of engaging with their business customers, which is reflected in increasing communication. The study found that 52 percent of business customers recall at least one communication from their utility in the past six months, up from 49 percent last year.
“It is remarkable how utilities have improved as an industry in understanding the importance of being customer-focused,” said John Hazen, J.D. Power director in the utility and infrastructure practice. “In doing so, they hope to not only improve their financial performance, but also to be viewed more favorably by regulators.”
He added that business customers also tend to be more supportive of the investment plans utilities have in such projects as updating or developing their infrastructure.
The study noted three more important trends in 2016:
- Power outages – While the number of brief and lengthy power interruptions has not changed in the past six months, the average duration of the longest outage increased to 13.7 minutes from 11.9 minutes. Thunderstorms are the most common cause of the longest outages (26 percent), followed by snow and ice (12 percent).
- Alerts – Since the previous study, the number of customers nationally signing up for electronic alerts increased more than 50 percent for outage alerts and 66 percent for monthly bill alerts.
- Corporate citizenship efforts – Utility providers continue to ramp up their efforts to be good corporate citizens. For example, 70 percent of business customers say their electric utility provider supports economic development in the local community; 30 percent have seen utility employees volunteering or working in their community; and 43 percent are aware of their utility’s efforts to improve its effect on the environment.
The rankings from the J.D. Power study are based on interviews with representatives of more than 20,500 U.S. businesses that spend an average of $200 or more a month on electricity.
Source: Public Power Daily, 1/17/17