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J.D. Power Ranks Gas Utility Work with Business

J.D. Power and Associates on Thursday released its rankings for natural gas utilities' work satisfying business customers on a regional basis. Dividing the nation into four broad areas, Washington, DC's Washington Gas Light, PSNC Energy in North Carolina, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. and Southwest Gas Corp. topped the lists in the East, South, Midwest and West regions, respectively.

For the fourth consecutive year J.D. Power measured business customer satisfaction with their gas utility in each region, with customer satisfaction being examined in six areas: billing and payment, corporate citizenship, price, communications, customer service and field service.

Corporate citizenship proved to be an important factor, but an overall conclusion by J.D. Power was that from top to bottom, the results show that gas utilities had plenty of room to improve in the future. No scores were in the 70th percentile.

Noting that overall it appears that having single points of contact for business customers helps, J.D. Power said about half of all business customers could recall recent contact with a gas utility representative. "Establishing a specialized contact point for business customers gives them a clear sense that they are valued by their local gas utility, which in turn enhances customer satisfaction," said Al Destribats, vice president for the energy sector at J.D. Power.

Among the four top regional gas utilities, Las Vegas, NV-based Southwest Gas scored highest (687 on a 1,000-point scale), MidAmerican was next (662), PSNC was third (657) and Washington Gas was fourth (647).

Some of the top rankings by region are:

A key driver in gaining business customer satisfaction appears to be linked to utilities' corporate citizenship work, J.D. Power concluded, noting that these activities can include providing donations or sponsorships to civic and charitable organizations, offering energy efficiency and conservation programs, or making efforts to improve safety and the environment.

"The high percentage of business customer awareness suggests that a fair number of gas utilities have dedicated themselves to engaging in and promoting their participation in various corporate citizenship activities," said Destribats, noting that at the same time, overall there is "definitely room for improvement" among the utilities.

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