New insights from the CSBA CX benchmarking program

 

Energy customer satisfaction remained stable in 2021, in a challenging year when contact volume, customer expectation and hardship were at their highest levels, according to the latest energy benchmarking study by customer experience insights agency, CSBA.

CX Director for Utilities at CSBA, Sudipta Dutt, said it was an encouraging result for the sector, at an extraordinary time marked by evolving regulatory changes and restrictions.

The annual Customer Experience (CX) benchmarking program for the energy sector involved eight companies and studied 13,528 surveys over a 12-month period from January to December 2021.

The good news is, there was no drop in standards, on the back of incremental year on year improvements since 2018,” said Dutt.

To put it into perspective, all sectors had a tough time during the pandemic. Yet, when compared to other sectors in our CSBA benchmarking programs such as local government and superannuation, the energy sector performed better.

However, when compared to the best in the world such as the UK energy market where customer satisfaction scores for both electricity and gas were 9 out of 10, Australian companies still have a way to go yet.”

The CSBA Customer Satisfaction scores for electricity and gas for 2021 were 7.5 and 8.5 respectively. The study, which also measured Ease and Net Promoter Score metrics, evaluated multiple customer touchpoints including unplanned and planned outages; new connections; general enquiries; claims and complaints; and distributed energy resources.

CX results for Gas

While other interactions such as planned and unplanned interactions stayed consistent for customer satisfaction, new connections continued the trend of growth. This has been an area of focus for gas participants, reflected in the year-on-year improvements from 6.8 in 2018 to 8.2 in 2021.

Where ‘duration’ and ‘communication’ were the top two drivers of satisfaction for new connections, Multinet Gas marketing and stakeholder engagement manager, James Wong explained it was critical to collaborate with all stakeholders including their own team, builders, developers, gas retailers and other gas distributors to try to streamline the new connection process across Victoria.

The involvement of multiple parties in the new connection process caused some inconsistencies and confusion for some customers with the three gas distribution businesses in Victoria. As such, we created a new process and collateral that provided some consistency among these gas distribution companies, so customers could get clarity on how to apply for a new connection and how to be site-ready when our field team arrived,” said Wong.

In unplanned outage, ‘duration’ and ‘communication’ remained the top two drivers affecting customer sentiment – about 60% of responses.

In planned outage, ‘quality of work’ moved from second position in 2020 to become the top driver; while ‘duration’ increased significantly by 5 points to third position, behind professionalism. An interesting observation: Contractors greatly influenced ease perceptions by relighting pilots and reinstating appliances to pre-outage settings.

For complaints, ‘taking ownership’ jumped 8 points to take first position as key driver, from fourth position in 2020.

CX results for Electricity

In unplanned outage, the top three drivers of ‘duration’, ‘information usefulness’ and ‘communication’ remained the same as in 2020.

In planned outage, the top three drivers of ‘duration’, ‘information’ and ‘quality of advice’ also remained the same as the previous year.

For complaints, there were similarly no changes in the hierarchy from the previous year, with ‘speed of resolution’, ‘taking ownership’ and ‘keeping customers clearly informed of next steps’ as the top three drivers.

For general enquiries, the top four drivers of ‘duration’, ‘keeping you informed’, ‘ownership’ and ‘delivering within agreed time frames’ held equal weightage at 18%, although ‘keeping you informed’ jumped two spots up, from fourth place in 2020.

The power of collaboration

AusNet Services Customer Experience Manager, Rachael Quigley, says collaboration in the energy sector can feel hard, with so many players and the need to coordinate multiple teams with different plans and priorities.

“Collaboration is one of the most important ways to improve the experience for our customers, so we will continue to look for opportunities to work together,” said Ms Quigley, explaining that a joint engagement strategy and gas access arrangement review with other Victorian gas businesses were already underway and delivering significant results.

Implications for the sector

Dutt says that while most energy companies have some form of Voice of Customer program, many are still not digging deep enough.

“Make your program work harder for you. Don’t treat it as just another item to tick off your to do list.”

  1. Ask the questions that matter – keep reviewing and adding where needed
  2. Listen to more of your customers – get more responses
  3. Analyse their comments – understand the themes of satisfaction and dissatisfaction
  4. Map the end-to-end customer journeys – identify specific pain points in specific interactions
  5. Act fast – democratise the data in real-time
  6. Evaluate and brainstorm – regularly, and more often

For more information, contact:

Sudipta Dutt
Account Director, Utilities
CSBA
Email: Sudipta.dutt@csba.com.au

Want to explore how CSBA can help you provide your customers with better experiences?