CMS, Reliant, Williams Top Customers' Rankings

The folks over at CMS Energy, Reliant Energy and Williams Energy Trading apparently are the best around at smiling and saying "thank you." They came out on top of a new customer satisfaction ranking by Mastio & Co. that evaluates the largest gas marketing companies based on the results of 1,200 interviews with industrial companies, LDCs, power producers and other marketers.

Coral Energy (18), Sempra Energy (19) and Koch Energy Trading (20) were the basement dwellers in Mastio's fourth ranking of the top 20 largest gas marketers.

Each respondent in Mastio's survey rated gas marketers on 39 customer satisfaction attributes: reliability of supply, price competitiveness, ease of ongoing business, quality and maturity of sales and service representatives, low marketing and sales force turnover, responsiveness to voice mail systems, quality of relationships, accurate billing, plus overall preference, day-to-day service and performance.

Among the mid-tier marketers, Woodward Marketing (1), U.S. Energy Services (2) and ProLiance Energy (3) came out on top, while Oxy USA (18), Burlington Resources (19) and Unocal Global Trade (20) brought up the rear.

"Many marketers focus on the niche customers while ignoring their corer customers. If your feel you are being ignored, you are probably right," said Bart Thedinger, vice president and senior partner at Mastio & Co. "Those marketers who walk the talk constantly cultivate a culture of customer satisfaction within their company. They care and you know it. They realize higher customer retention rates, win more new customers and increase profits. Those who don't will lose the opportunity and ultimately their customers."

Mastio's complete study ranks a total of 68 gas marketers and three LDCs who compete with one another in the U.S. and Canada. Among the top 20 largest marketers, Reliant had the highest two-year average, while Koch Energy Trading had the lowest two-year average. Also among the top 20, Enron North America and Texaco Gas Marketing showed the greatest improvement, while Sempra Energy Trading and Koch showed the most significant decline.

Today's customer has many choices with the large number of available marketers and the numerous services they offer. Marketers have to make every customer contact count. The top three customer needs, according to Mastio & Co. are 1) ease of ongoing business, 2) quality of relationships with marketer and 3) sales representatives who listen well.

Rocco Canonica

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