For retail electricity providers in Texas, USA, providing account representatives to handle business customer enquiries results in a considerable lift in overall satisfaction, according to the 2009 Texas Business Retail Electric Provider Customer Satisfaction Study by J.D. Power and Associates.
The inaugural study measured business customer satisfaction with retail electricity providers by examining four key factors: pricing, billing and payment, communications, and customer service (in order of importance).
Overall satisfaction among business customers of electric retailers in Texas averages 612 on a 1,000-point scale. In addition, satisfaction is considerably higher among those customers who report that they contact their utility company through an assigned account manager.
"Providing dedicated account representatives for business customers improves perceptions of value, particularly when those representatives demonstrate knowledge of the customer's organisation or industry," said Chris Oberle, senior director of the energy and utility practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, only 17% of business customers said they have an account manager assigned to them by their electricity provider."
Green Mountain Energy Company achieved a score of 714 and performed particularly well in three of the four factors (billing and payment, communications, and customer service), followed by Stream Energy (664), Direct Energy (635) and GEXA Energy Corporation (633).
The study also found that high satisfaction with a utility company fosters higher levels of customer commitment, which leads to higher levels of customer loyalty and advocacy. Among customers who reported they are highly committed, overall satisfaction averaged 819.
In addition, 54% of highly committed customers said they "definitely will not switch" to another provider, and 44% said they "definitely will recommend" their provider to others.
In contrast, among those who reported low levels of commitment, overall satisfaction averaged only 411. Only 4% of these customers said they "definitely will not switch" and only 1% said they "definitely will recommend" their provider.
Among the study's other key findings:
- 76% of business customers said that price is the main reason they would consider switching to another provider;
- 57% of business customers believe that switching providers would be difficult to do;
- 61% of business customers would recommend their utility to others;
- 55% of business customers pay their monthly bill by a method other than by mail;
- Perhaps not surprisingly, the average business customer recalls having received approximately 12 communications from their electricity provider per year.