The “Annual State of the Customer Survey in the Utility Sector” is a survey of 1,000 Americans conducted late last year. The annual survey is conducted in collaboration with the members of the Utility Customer Research Consortium (UCRC), a blue-ribbon panel of utility executives focused on customer strategy and operations.

The survey report states that consumers highly rate the customer service provided by energy utilities, providing a higher value service than other comparable providers. However, there has been a significant decline from last year in how customers view utility customer service. The concern is that a growing number of customers indicated that they would choose another energy provider if they could.

The findings point to a number of tactical approaches to improve customer service provided by utilities. Utilities will need to take a more nuanced view of the consumer, including more narrowly targeting segments of customers through the communication channel of their choice with messages that address their needs. There are new pricing and payment options that ought to be considered, and utilities need to provide mobile bill payment options.

In the longer term, utilities should look to build a different service model tailored for two broad segments of customers:

  • A model based on need (for low-income customers and others struggling to pay)
  • A model based on value creation (for customers who have made investments in solar, electric vehicles, etc.)

The second model addresses requirements for a different level of customer experience that is aligned with customer decisions that should result in increased revenue.

Filed Under: Customer-service, UCRC