Electric utility companies handle the poles and wires that deliver electricity to homes. They also check meters and restore service after severe weather and emergencies.
In states that have deregulated the markets, utilities compete with competitive electric suppliers. Consumers can shop for plans, rates, and customer service options. Consumers can even see the different providers on their bills.
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Electric utilities may seem like an industry primarily focused on delivering power, but they must also pay attention to customer service. This is particularly important during times of crisis when customers will expect a high level of reliability from their provider.
Utilities that ignore customer satisfaction do so at their peril. Even if customers don’t switch to another provider immediately, they might do so down the line or tell their friends and family members to avoid that company. This could lead to more power outages for these consumers and decreased overall satisfaction with their providers.
PPL Electric Utility, for example, is a highly-rated company that takes customer satisfaction very seriously. This is why the company has won many awards over the years, including being named a top utility in business customer satisfaction for two consecutive years. The utility’s commitment to providing reliable service is rooted in its mission of delivering safe, reliable power to its customers at an affordable price.
The company aims to provide its customers with an excellent experience with fair prices, easy-to-use payment options, and excellent customer service. This has resulted in PPL’s customer satisfaction being among the country’s largest utility companies.
There are several ways in which electric utilities communicate with customers – both proactively and reactively. Proactive communication typically happens when utilities send out bills or other recurring information. In contrast, reactive communication occurs when a customer calls to ask questions, request service turn on or shut off, report a problem, etc.
One of the biggest energy utility customer service bugbears cuts across sectors but is especially evident in utilities: wasting time trying to get someone on the phone to answer an inquiry. To cut through this frustration, some of the highest-rated electric companies, like Irving Electric company, provide self-service options online that allow customers to quickly and easily find answers to their questions.
SECO also does a great job communicating with its customers during rate increases and decreases. During rate increases, the company focuses communications on how to save money by using their home energy analyzer and energy education. During rate decreases, they remind customers of programs and services that help mitigate the impact on their bills.
Many traditional utilities now recognize the need to leverage their CIS, CRM, and customer care systems and strategies to improve customer satisfaction. They’re starting to focus on the “softer” aspects of customer service — things that aren’t as hard and fast to do but still significantly impact overall satisfaction.
The main concern of many customers during a power outage is not how long they will be without power but whether they can trust their provider to improve the situation. This is why utilities must keep communication lines open and provide timely information about restoration efforts. Additionally, it is beneficial for utilities to offer flexibility in billing and payment options during an outage, as this can help alleviate the stress of losing business while allowing customers to maintain their standard of living.
While the biggest priority for utility customers is power quality and reliability, other factors contribute to overall customer satisfaction. An Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study examined six factors: power quality and reliability, price, billing and payment, communication, corporate citizenship, and customer service.
Historically, reliability criteria have been established as a matter of policy or through long-term engineering practice, with little supportive customer cost/benefit analysis. However, recent studies have made it possible to combine the results of these investigations into a single dataset. This database is a powerful tool for quantifying customers’ value on electricity-utility-system reliability.
The 2020s are a critical decade for global action on climate change, and they will require vital decisions that will have lasting impacts on energy system costs for decades to come. Greater flexibility in the electricity system provides:
- Option value.
- Allowing decision-makers to delay the deployment of costly assets until they have more information.
- Thus reducing high regret costs.
In a business context, timely and prompt are different. The difference is that timely means something that happens within a reasonable time frame, while prompt refers to action taken immediately or without delay. The difference in meaning between the two words can be subtle, but it is essential to remember when using them.
For example, if someone writes to you with an urgent request, a prompt response conveys that their message is important and that you will act on it promptly. However, if they send a non-urgent email, a timely response gives that their request is being considered but is not currently a priority. The key is to use the right word based on the context and tone of the conversation.
With so many options for companies and offerings and a vast buffet of communication channels, customers are no longer willing to wait. They expect a quick and efficient response to their questions or concerns through their preferred channel, which seems most effective.
In addition, providing timely responses also helps reduce the company’s support team’s workload so they can spend more time delivering speedy and quality customer service to their clients. In turn, this increases loyalty and customer retention rates. It can also help prevent the need for costly damage control.