Poll: 19 percent of consumers have a high opinion of their utility

Burlington, Mass., December 20, 2010 — A recent Twitter poll conducted by Nuance Communications on how consumers communicate with their utility providers revealed that there is room for improvement in terms of customer service experiences and creating brand preference and loyalty, as only 19 percent reported a high opinion of their provider, while 41 percent said they had a low opinion and another 40 percent said they had no opinion.

Other key findings include:

* More than 70 percent use the phone to communicate with their utility provider, while 16 percent use email and 7 percent use web or chat.

* While 70 percent are interacting on the phone, only 9 percent are using automated voice systems.

* More than 75 percent of participants said they contact a utility company when there is a problem with service, such as an outage, while more than 50 percent contact a utility provider when there is a problem with their bill.

An overwhelming 63 percent of participants said they would like to receive proactive notifications from their utility company.

More than half say the preferred vehicle for receiving these proactive notifications — email, SMS, phone call — depends on the situation, whether it is an emergency or a tip. 36 percent said that they prefer email, while 7 percent prefer SMS, and just 3 percent want a phone call.

“When there is an outage” topped the list at 76 percent for instances in which participants would like to receive a proactive notification, while “to alert me of an outage restoration” clocked in at 55 percent.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they are interested in managing their account through a self-service app on their mobile device.

Respondents reported a number of actions that they would prefer to complete on their mobile device. 57 percent want to access their account balance and due date, and more than 40 percent of respondents want to use mobile self-service for reporting a power outage, paying their bill, and determining their usage levels.

According to Christy Murfitt, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing, Nuance, “The fact that only 19 percent of customers have a high opinion of their utility providers and an overwhelming 40 percent of respondents said that they have “Ëœno opinion’ about their utility providers clearly shows that utilities need to do a better job of creating brand preference and loyalty.”

“The findings also reveal several ways utilities can retool their customer service strategies to drive preference, such as delivering mobile self-service solutions, providing more automated phone services, and proactive notifications. Because no two customers are alike, the key to success with these strategies is to personalize the experience for customers, based on their preferred communications channels and the reasons they prefer to be contacted by the utility,” Murfitt said.

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