“Significant web-based investments directed at residential consumers can only be justified on the basis of faith–not rational financial analysis,” according to a survey by Primen which found virtually no consumers interacting with energy companies on the internet.

The Madison, WI-based consulting firm said utilities cannot expect any near-term cost savings by servicing customers on the web. “Over the next three years online transactions or product purchases is expected to grow less than 1%–even though more than 60% of residential energy customers have online access.”

The only area where online transactions are expected to grow is in the delivery and payment of residential bills. “Although few customers currently pay bills online, the numbers could increase to 25% in a few years, which would save utilities $300,000 per year per 100,000 customers.

Why is customer web response low? The answer comes in three parts. Net-savvy households rarely contact their utilities or change their service. “We have a computer” households know how to turn it on, but don’t often use it. They frequently consider changing energy suppliers, but can’t be reached through the web. “Hi-Service Switchers” households–the highest users of customer service interfaces–are the least likely to have access to the web. The study may be ordered from Primen at (877) 976-4681 or ebusiness@primen.com.

©Copyright 2001 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.