Customer satisfaction with utility companies dipped in 2021, survey finds

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The authors say companies should do a better job of communicating with customers

It’s winter, there’s inflation, and electric bills are going up. It’s probably no surprise that the latest J.D. Power survey of utility company customers shows that satisfaction is going down.

The survey put residential customer satisfaction at 748 on a 1,000 point scale. That’s down from 751 in 2020. The authors said the rating might have been higher if utilities did a better job of publicizing the things they do to help their communities. The study shows that only 32% of customers are aware of their utilities’ efforts to help economic development.

“In today’s roller-coaster economic environment, electric utility providers need to not only increase their efforts to help their local economies but also communicate more effectively about utility programs and activities,” said John Hazen, managing director of the utility practice at J.D. Power. “Utility customers want to hear about these efforts and, when they do, overall satisfaction is higher. Promoting economic development efforts can increase overall satisfaction by as much as 122 points.”

Consumer reviews vary for utilities

Consumers rating their electric utility providers at ConsumerAffairs appear to be reasonably satisfied to not very satisfied, depending on the company. On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, ConsumerAffairs reviewers rated five major providers this way:

Consumer attitudes about electric utilities can be formed by a wide array of issues. For many, the monthly bill is a big factor.

“Their cost is always high no matter what time of year or season we are in,” Charleston, of Hopewell, Va., wrote in a review of Dominion resources. “Every time I pay my bill it never seems to go down, it increases every month. Tried to get help but no one ever responds to my phone calls.”

But others -- like Patty, a First Energy customer in Pittsburgh -- appreciate things like reliability.

“We have experienced very few outages or interruptions in service and when we have, they have been very brief,” Patty wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “We never have brownouts or flickers. Our power is something we don't think about. We take it completely for granted which says a lot about First Energy.”

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