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Utility Company Website Research: J.D. Power Finds Problems

March 24, 2016 By Steve Senne in

Utilities increasingly are offering customers a mobile-enabled channel but the utilities are struggling with designing and running mobile-enabled websites and apps, according to new utility company website research from J.D. Power. The research comes from the J.D. Power 2016 Utility Website Evaluation Study. 

More than 9 in 10 utilities surveyed (59 of 65 surveyed, or 92%) reported they offer their customers a mobile-enabled network channel, either through a website or mobile app. That’s up from 72% in 2014, J:D. Power highlights in a press release.

Customer satisfaction regarding ease of use of mobile-enabled power and energy utility apps and websites, moreover, rose from 405 to 409 on a 500-point index scale in the past year. That said, users are experiencing problems accessing content as utilities have implemented responsive design changes that adjust Web content to various recipient screen sizes, as well as changes in functionality. 

Utility Company Website Research

Three in 10 customers in the 2016 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study said they had experienced one or more issues while using their mobile phones to access websites or apps. Among those, 16% said the information they were looking for wasn’t accessible or froze. These problems most likely result from lack of content or lack of search capabilities rather than issues with website technology, according to J.D. Power. “Many utilities have deployed responsive design technology on their mobile websites to deliver content that automatically fits on the various screen sizes of mobile devices,” elaborated Andrew Heath, senior director of J.D. Power’s utility and infrastructure practice. “However, it’s not enough to just implement responsive design without also designing the website content customers will ultimately experience on their mobile device.” Other key takeaways include:

  • Ease of Use Performance: Among the utility companies included in the study, AEP, Alabama Power and First Energy perform particularly well in overall ease of use of utility websites.
  • Focus on Account Access: Satisfaction scores for the review account information task is a strong predictor of satisfaction among customers with electronic billing in the residential electric and gas syndicated studies.
  • Utility Website Used for Emergency Information: A growing number of customers use a utility website in emergency situations to report an outage, view current outage information or find details of a gas leak. However, it takes more than two minutes, on average, to find the relevant information on the site.
  • Likelihood to Reuse Utility Website: Among study brands in the top quartile (scores of 426-441), 56% of customers say they “definitely will” return to the utility website, compared with 50% among brands in the bottom quartile (scores of 357-405).