In this report we discuss high-level findings from the E Source 2022 Customer Experience Survey. If you’re interested in participating in the next survey, fill out the participation form on the study page. For those who participated in the 2022 survey, you can find more-in-depth findings via the 2022 Customer Experience Survey page.

How do you make the business case for CX?

Utility CX professionals are responsible for proving to the CEO and senior management that CX initiatives are worth doing. Although 25 of the 32 CX professionals we surveyed are in agreement that their senior leaders believe CX is critical to meeting business goals, 13 said they don’t feel like senior leaders are vocal or hands-on about making CX a priority.

One of the biggest challenges in making the business case for CX is turning the intangible concepts such as nonmonetary benefits like CSAT into a tangible ROI.

How do CX metrics affect business outcomes?

We asked CX professionals to list the business outcomes their CX efforts have affected. Of the 32 utility respondents:

  • 20 said their CX efforts resulted in increased customer advocacy
  • 18 said their CX efforts resulted in increased participation in customer service programs
  • 18 said their CX efforts resulted in better brand perception

And according to the E Source US Residential Customer Insights Center, some of the top utility attributes that drive CSAT are:

  • Having a positive image
  • Being customer focused
  • Being easy to do business with

Communicating that your CX efforts tie into some of the top drivers of CSAT is crucial in proving the ROI of your CX initiatives (figure 1).

Figure 1: Top five business outcomes resulting from CX efforts and top five drivers of CSAT

If you can prove to senior leaders and managers that your CX initiatives have a positive effect on business outcomes, you’re more likely to get support for your initiatives.

A. Business outcome resulting from CX efforts

  Number of utilities
© E Source (2022 Customer Experience Survey). Base: All respondents (n = 32 utilities). Question S5_4: What business outcomes have your utility’s CX efforts affected? Select all that apply. Notes: ACSI = American Customer Satisfaction Index; CX = customer experience; MSI = Marketing Science Institute. We show only the top 5 responses. In total, we asked about 18 business outcomes. *MSI is now Escalent.
Increased customer advocacy20
Increased participation in customer service programs such as paperless billing or self-service18
Better brand perception18
Greater customer satisfaction as measured by J.D. Power, MSI*, ACSI, or another third-party benchmark15
Reduced contact center volume14

B. CSAT drivers

  Impact on satisfaction (%)
© E Source (US Residential Customer Insights Center; data from the 2021 Claritas Energy Behavior Track survey). Base: Respondents of electricity or dual-fuel providers who completed the activity online in the past 12 months. Question A10: How much do you personally agree or disagree with the following statements about your electricity provider for your primary residence? My utility has a positive image, my utility is trustworthy, my utility has better rates than other electric providers, my utility is customer focused. (Respondents used a scale of 1–10, where 1 meant strongly disagree and 10 meant strongly agree.) A6NEW: Please rate the ease of the following interactions with your electricity provider. Viewed account status/bill, connected/established/transferred service, set up notification/alerts, viewed a power outage map, reported a power outage/emergency, applied for a rebate, enrolled in an energy efficiency program. (Respondents used a scale of 1–10, where 1 meant very difficult and 10 meant very easy.) Note: *We took the average of seven interactions to determine the driver “Ease of doing business with my electric utility.”
My utility has a positive image21
My utility is trustworthy17
My utility has better rates than other electric providers16
My utility is customer focused11
Ease of doing business with my electric utility*11

What’s the benefit of prioritizing CX initiatives?

Failing to meet customers’ expectations will lead to higher operational costs. Dissatisfied customers are more expensive to serve than customers who are happy with the service they receive. Dissatisfied customers will increase contact center volume and drive higher numbers of escalated complaints.

Consider this example. A utility has 100 customers:

  • 55% are satisfied
  • 15% are neutral
  • 30% are dissatisfied

Imagine that the average satisfied customer calls once a month, requiring one minute of agent time. At a cost of $3.50 per minute of call time, that means the average satisfied customer costs the utility $42.00 per year in the contact center.

Alternatively, the average dissatisfied customer calls twice a month, requiring five minutes of agent time per call. That means the average dissatisfied customer costs the utility $420.00 per year in the contact center.

In this scenario, for every dissatisfied customer that the utility can convert to a satisfied customer, the utility will save $378.00 in contact center costs (figure 2).

Figure 2: CX ROI calculator

Use this template as a starting place to help you determine the ROI of your CX initiatives.
Description Dissatisfied Satisfied Notes/equation
© E Source
Customer survey responses30%55%Percentage of current customers in bottom- and top-box satisfaction scores
Annual customer count3055Annualized number of customers who call the utility for this transaction
Annual cost to serve$12,600$2,310Total transaction hours × cost per hour
Average number of transactions per customer per year2412Average annual transaction counts
Average transaction length5 minutes1 minuteDuration of interaction as reported internally
Total transaction hours60 hours11 hours(Annual customer count × average number of transactions per customer per year × average transaction length in minutes) ÷ 60
Cost per hour$210$210Internal cost, e.g., people (wages) or systems (infrastructure)
Cost per customer$420$42Annual cost to serve ÷ annual customer count
DescriptionTotalNotes/equation
Savings from perceived satisfaction$378Cost per customer (dissatisfied) − cost per customer (satisfied)
Customers affected by initiative15Projected count of customers to move from dissatisfied to satisfied
Annual savings from initiative$5,670Savings from perceived satisfaction × customers affected by initiative
Cost of initiative$2,000Cost of people, process, policy, system, or data improvement
Return on investment$3,670Annual savings from initiative − cost of initiative

Our report 8 metrics for making a utility business case for customer experience uses the ROI example we feature above, and it further explores the cost implications of serving dissatisfied customers. This report is available to members of the E Source Customer Experience Strategy Service.

Contributing Authors

Analyst, Market Research

As part of the market research team, Sarah Baker designs, implements, and analyzes market research studies. Her areas of expertise include...

Senior Solution Director, Customer Experience

Eryc Eyl is committed to improving the experience of work and business for employees and customers. His expertise in customer experience, employee...

Senior Solution Director, Customer Energy Solutions

Katie Ruiz helps customers use E Source content to meet their goals in demand-side management, distributed energy resources, and...