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Sector Spotlight: Customer Satisfaction Research in the Utilities Sector

October 5th 2017

New customer satisfaction research by TTi Global on customers’ perceptions of their utilities providers shows that the ‘higher the customer effort, the lower the customer satisfaction’.

Results from TTi’s Utilities Benchmark Survey for the three months until August 2017, shows that making changes to an account, amending Direct Debit instructions, switching to a different tariff or booking an appointment – all interactions typically carried out online via a utility company’s self-service portal – scored well for customer satisfaction (8.7).

Customer satisfaction by interaction type in the utilities sectorWhere customers needed to report a problem, contact customer services, sign-up for a new account or change to a different supplier – all interactions typically involving contacting a company operative direct – customer satisfaction levels decreased (7.3 and lower). However, reporting a problem and billing queries achieved the lowest customer satisfaction score (6.5).

The interaction with the highest customer satisfaction score during the three months was smart meter installation (9.2). Smart meter installation also achieved a low customer effort score in conjunction with a high customer satisfaction score, indicating customers were happy with the steps involved in acquiring the device, such as fixing a date and time to fit the meter, the helpfulness of the engineer and explanation of how the meter operates.

Glyn Luckett, Commercial Director at TTi Global Research, says, “The results of our benchmark survey show an elevated level of satisfaction among utility customers conducting relatively simple changes, such as amending details online, but when it comes to bill queries, refunds and problem reporting - interactions where customers usually need to speak to or email their provider direct - satisfaction starts to fall away.

“Raising customer satisfaction involves getting a 360-degree view of customers’ journey to isolate exactly where customer frustration points occur and taking steps to resolve them. Experience shows that if a company functions well on the inside, it functions well on the outside, helping create higher levels of customer satisfaction and advocacy.”    

What Makes Utilities Customers Happy?

Survey respondents cited helpful, efficient staff and quick, smooth interactions as the top drivers of their satisfaction across the various customer interactions.

The lower the customer effort, the greater the customer satisaction with the interaction.

Whilst spending overly long on the phone trying to resolve issues, difficulty communicating with providers and unhelpful staff scored low satisfaction scores overall.

Customer effort by utilities interaction typeGlyn says: “It’s well known that UK utility companies are working hard to put customers first and deliver better customer service. On a positive note, our findings show that compared to other sectors, utilities achieved a higher overall satisfaction score for customer service than telecoms and airline providers.

“If utility providers can invest more in improving frontline employees’ ability to handle complaints quickly and efficiently, and find ways to decrease customer effort - particularly reducing the need to call by offering more online self-serve options - this could help raise customer satisfaction substantially.” 

About the TTi Global Utilities Benchmark Survey

The survey was conducted across 131 UK-based respondents between 1 June and 31 August 2017. Respondents were asked to provide customer satisfaction and customer effort ratings, as well as answer questions about their loyalty and recommendation intentions relating to interactions with different utilities service providers.

Satisfaction by interaction type were rated on a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 is lowest and 10 is highest.

For further information or to discuss TTi Global’s benchmarking survey, contact Glyn Luckett at TTi Global Research: gluckett@tti-global.com or call 01753 214000.