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From the E Source Large Business Gap and Priority Benchmark

Data source: 2016 E Source Business Customer Satisfaction Study (formerly known as the Gap and Priority Benchmark)
Data type: Voice of the customer, business account management


Keeping energy prices down, effectively communicating during emergencies, providing reliable energy, and being trustworthy are top-priority utility attributes for key account business customers. Although end-use customers rate these attributes as most important, utility performance isn’t meeting their expectations. In 2016, E Source surveyed approximately 880 key account business customers (from nine utilities) to assess their needs and how well their energy providers are meeting them. Service-related attributes and trustworthiness have some of the largest gaps between customers’ importance and utility performance ratings (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Customers’ perceptions of attribute importance and utility performance

Although key account customers rate service-related attributes as most important to them, utilities still have room for improvement. On average, the gap between the importance and the performance of service-related attributes is –1.4 on a 10-point scale—twice that of program-related attributes, on average, and a full point greater than the average gap for a utility’s image-related attributes.
Bar chart showing customers' rating of attribute importance and performance on a 10-point scale where 1 is the highest score. For more information, contact E Source at 1-800-376-8723.

Given that many of these attributes are top drivers of customer satisfaction (Figure 2), it’s important to demonstrate your ability to meet customer expectations in these areas. Based on comments from our members during roundtable discussions and results from current and past gap and priority studies, we compiled a list of best practices:

  • Earn trust by making commitments and sticking to them.
  • Provide reliable energy (that is, keep the power on) by maintaining and upgrading equipment, increasing the redundancy of power generation through backup generators, adding solar or wind power, or using energy storage devices. You can also work with your customers to implement some of these same items on-site.
  • Respond quickly and effectively if the power goes out to alleviate customer confusion and frustration.
  • Proactively communicate with customers about energy prices, relevant regulatory filings, and the drivers behind rate increases.
  • Provide explanations of rate cases and justifications for rate increases to maintain customer satisfaction.
  • Share what you’re doing to keep rates as low as possible.

Figure 2: Top drivers of customer satisfaction

E Source analysis found that the top drivers of key account customer satisfaction with their utility were the same: trustworthiness, reliable energy, and low energy prices.
Graphic showing that trustworthiness, reliable energy, and low energy prices are the top drivers in customer satisfaction with their utility.

Study Methodology

The 2016 E Source Large Business Gap and Priority Benchmark consisted of a web-based survey fielded throughout 2016. Only customer respondents from the nine utilities who met the 2016 E Source benchmark criteria answered the questions included in this snapshot (n = 877).

The survey asked key account business customers to rate the importance of attributes that relate to utilities and the performance of their utility in each area. We also asked customers to rate their overall satisfaction and perceived value of their utility. We conducted regression analysis to identify key drivers of key account customer satisfaction with their utility and their perception of the value they receive from their utility.

For public content, E Source removes data points from figures.

Contact Us

For more information about the survey or these data, please call us at 1-800-ESOURCE (1-800-376-8723) or email the E Source Market Research Services team.

Contributing Authors

Senior analyst, Market Research

Daniel Doutre brings more than 25 years of experience defining, organizing, and analyzing market research data to the E Source team. From semiannual...

Analyst, Market Research

As a member of the market research team, Cory Coggins focuses on collecting and analyzing data related to customer satisfaction, marketing, and...