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Business customer satisfaction with electric utility communications has increased, while overall satisfaction has declined, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study.

The study is based on interviews with representatives of more than 25,700 U.S. businesses that spend at least $250 monthly on electricity. More than 90 utility brands serving a total of more than 11.7 million business customers are included in the study. Overall customer satisfaction is measured by examining six factors: power quality and reliability; billing and payment; corporate citizenship; price; communications; and customer service.

Overall satisfaction among electric utility business customers averages 647 (on a 1,000-point scale), decreasing by 10 points from 2012. Satisfaction decreases in all factors except communications, which increased by four points year over year. According to J.D. Power and Associates, the largest decreases in satisfaction are in customer service (down 18 points), corporate citizenship (down 18) and billing and payment (down 15).

"Even with the multiple weather events and an increase in the average outage time, satisfaction with power quality and reliability has decreased only three points," says John Hazen, senior director of the energy utility practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "In addition to customer service, the area in which utilities are facing significant criticism is in corporate citizenship, where business customers are critical of utility efforts to develop energy supply plans for the future as well as utilities showing business leadership in local communities."

However, positively impacting satisfaction with power quality and reliability, electric utility companies are demonstrating new ways to ensure open lines of communication with their customers by offering service outage updates via text messaging, social media and email, which the report says yield significantly higher satisfaction levels than any other outage-communication type.

In addition to providing information through multiple channels, electric utility companies are also proactively communicating with their business customers during outages, which positively impacts satisfaction as well. Power quality and reliability satisfaction among the 11% of business customers that received proactive communications from their utility during an outage is 754, compared with 654 among those that received no communications from their utility.

To see which utilities ranked highest regionally, click here.


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