PENSACOLA, Fla. – Gulf Power ranks among the highest performers in customer satisfaction among electric utilities, according to a recent survey of electric utility customers conducted by J.D. Power.
The 2017 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study ranked utilities in groups separated by region and size. Gulf Power placed third out of 19 in the South Region Midsize Utility Group and had a score among the 10 highest of all 118 investor-owned and municipal utilities included in the study. Midsize energy companies are defined as those with 100,000 to 499,000 residential customers.
“This ranking reflects the dedication of our team and the benefits of continued investment in our grid infrastructure to deliver reliable energy to Northwest Florida communities,” said Stan Connally, Chairman, President and CEO of Gulf Power. “We are honored by this feedback and ranking, but we will also identify ways to better serve our customers.”
The Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study, now in its 19th year, ranks customers’ opinions in six categories from power quality and reliability, price, and billing and payment, to corporate citizenship, communications and customer service.
Customer satisfaction was calculated on a 1,000-point scale with the average score at 719. Gulf Power earned a score of 749, raising the energy company from 4th place in its category a year ago.
The study showed that an increase in power outage communication along with improved price satisfaction were the top drivers of the 6th consecutive year of improved customer satisfaction with residential electric utility companies. The study goes on to show that more utility customers (66% vs. 59% in 2016) are receiving critical information during a power outage, such as the cause of the outage, number of customers affected and estimates on when power will be restored.
Other key findings of the study included that customers believe their utility infrastructure is being updated, electronic bill-pay is increasing, paperless communications on the rise and website access is going mobile.
Last October, Gulf Power rolled out “Service to Fit Your Life” aimed at improving the customer experience, including additional customer-focused initiatives, such as new user-friendly website, improved mobile platforms, “live chat” as well as making it more convenient for customers to pay their energy bill at one of more than 200 Authorized Payment Locations across Northwest Florida. Gulf Power also offers payment options like budget billing that smooth out customer payments by using a 12-month average that helps customers avoid the higher bills that come from extreme weather months.
The J.D. Power 2017 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 99,145 online interviews conducted from July 2016 through May 2017 among residential customers of the 138 largest electric utility brands across the United States, which collectively represent more than 98 million households.
This isn’t the first high customer ranking for Gulf Power this year. In April, the energy provider was ranked among the top ten investor-owned utilities in the nation according to a new ranking which compared capital investment to the benefits customer receive in reliability and overall satisfaction. Gulf Power garnered the 8th spot from a pool of 100 investor-owned utilities evaluated across the country by the Wired Group, and second place in Florida. The Colorado-based consulting firm used an internet-based Utility Evaluator that calculates customer value rankings based on a variety of metrics, including efficiency of spending on capital investments, operations and maintenance, reliability and satisfaction ratings.
The energy company was also recently named as one of the Top 40 Utility Power Brands for 2017 by Essence Partners. Gulf Power was ranked in the top five, garnering the number four spot as one of the best investor-owned electric utility brands. The ranking was a result of a comprehensive investigation of more than 200 measures of utility brand strength, categorized among four dimensions: customer experience, employee experience, brand identity and corporate narrative.