Commercial and industrial (C&I) customers are less satisfied than ever with the service provided by their electric utilities.
A new Business Customer Satisfaction Survey by J.D. Power shows that overall approval scores are at an all-time low of 754 on a 1,000-point scale. Rising electricity prices and a perceived lack of concern are the key factors leading to the utilites' business customers' dissatisfaction.
"There is not a lot that electric utilities can do to reduce costs, but they can offset the negative sentiment their business customers are feeling by ramping up communications, delivering more personalized service, and making sure customers are aware of infrastructure improvements,” said Adrian Chung, Director of Utilities Intelligence at J.D. Power.
"Right now, far too many business customers are not receiving proactive outreach, including power outage updates. They are largely unaware of tree trimming and other infrastructure improvement projects and they have no dedicated service when they contact their utility for service. Utilities need to establish a stronger collaboration with these high-value customers," Chung added.
Surprisingly, 71% of business customers surveyed say their electric utility did not provide power outage-related updates. Part of the problem may be communication pathways: 42% of business customers say their typical means of contact is the utility’s main telephone number while only 15% reportedly know they have an assigned account representative, according to J.D. Power.
The transportation sector is far from full-on electrification, but this is increasingly important to business customers, the survey shows. Close to one-fifth of those businesses have an EV charging station at their locations, while nearly two-thirds say that charging accessibility is “somewhat or very important” to them. Those with charging stations were statistically more satisfied with pricing than those with no charges, according to J.D. Power.
The report also breaks down into four regions ranking both large and midsize utilities by business customer satisfaction scores. Those utilities ranked highest in their respective regions and categories include BGE (Baltimore Gas & Electric), PSE&G, Atlantic City Electric, MidAmerican Energy, Indiana Michigan Power, Alabama Power, JEA (Jacksonville, Fla.), Salt River Project and Seattle City Light.
The J.D. Power Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from nearly 18,000 online interviews with business customers and decision-makers within their companies. Those interviews were conducted through most of this year.