BP, Conoco, Oneok, Reliant and Sempra topped Mastio & Co. 2002 gas marketer customer satisfaction ranking. The companies that showed the greatest improvement from 2001, Mastio said, were BP, Duke Energy, ExxonMobil and Sempra. However, of the 20 marketers in the 2001 customer satisfaction index, only 13 remained in 2002 and several of those have announced they are exiting the marketing business, Mastio noted in its statement on the ranking.

The top five regional or niche marketers in alphabetical order were ProLiance Energy, Texican Natural Gas, U.S. Energy Services, Woodward Marketing and WPS Energy Services. And the regional marketers that showed the greatest improvement from the 2001 ranking were Dominion Energy, ProLiance Energy, Questar Energy, Sprague Energy and U.S. Energy Services.

Mastio’s ranking is based on interviews with industrial customers, local distribution companies, electric generation companies, producers and other marketers. Each respondent rates marketers on 28 categories: ease of doing business, consistency of account management, integrity of personnel, risk management products and services, sales representatives who listen well, plus overall preference and performance.

The most important issue to customers in this survey was the reliability of supply, followed by the integrity of personnel and historical dependability, Mastio said. The least important issue to buyers was a marketer’s suite of online products and services.

“Gas marketers are learning that you cannot substitute human interaction with computers,” Mastio and Co. said. “Many purchasers of natural gas still want a touchy-feeling relationship.” Knowledgeable personnel also is a key benefit and has become increasingly important. One attribute added to this edition of Mastio’s survey that was in the top five in importance was “Has financial strength to back future commitments.”

Mastio said poor customer relations was a key factor in Enron’s fall. The company’s position in Mastio’s ranking in 2001 — three months prior to its bankruptcy filing — was down 20% from the prior year and fell to the eighth worst position. No company had fallen further during that time period. “Not only did they treat their customers poorly versus their competition, but Enron emphasized issues that customers deemed less important to their purchase decision,” Mastio said.

“It is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but the simple truth is: it is the customer who has the money and without customers you do not have a reason to exist… It all comes down to the fact that customers base their purchase decision on which supplier(s) provides the best perceived value. In other words, everything you do needs to be linked to maximizing customer satisfaction and customer value.”

For more information on Mastio’s customer satisfaction rankings, call (816) 364-6200 or email info@mastio.com.

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