J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Mobile Online Experiences at Utility Websites Failing to Meet Customers Expectations

   J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Mobile Online Experiences at Utility
               Websites Failing to Meet Customers Expectations

PR Newswire

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., April 10, 2013

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., April 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- An increasing number
of customers are using their mobile device to access their utility's website,
which is a less satisfying experience than their experience on a desktop
computer, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Utility Website
Evaluation Study^SM (UWES) released today.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20050527/LAF028LOGO-a)

KEY FINDINGS

  oOverall customer satisfaction with the usefulness of utility websites is
    416 (on a 500-point scale).
  oTwo key tasks driving overall satisfaction with utility websites are the
    ability to review account information and make a payment.
  oSatisfaction with the desktop experience for electric-only utilities is
    424, outperforming gas-only utilities at 410.

The study finds that 26 percent of customers visit their utility's website via
their smartphone, compared with 16 percent in 2012. Customer satisfaction with
their mobile website experience averages 403 (on a 500-point scale). In
comparison, overall satisfaction among customers using a desktop computer to
visit their utility's site is 416.

Satisfaction is highest for the most-often-used, high-volume functions, such
as logging in, reviewing account information and making a payment. However,
satisfaction is lower for more complicated functions, such as setting up an
online account, researching energy-saving information, finding gas leak
information and updating utility service. 

"Many utility companies are using sites developed as long as a decade ago, and
some do not have the budget to update or upgrade their sites," said Andrew
Heath, senior director at J.D. Power and Associates. "As a result, the sites
haven't evolved to keep up with customer expectations."

The study, now in its second year, examines the usability of utility websites
by examining 12 tasks: set up an online account; account log in; view
consumption history; review account information; make a payment; research
energy saving information; update service; report outages; view outages;
locate contact information; perform account and profile maintenance; and
locate gas leak info. The study provides utility companies with an objective
assessment of the usability of their website; establishes performance
benchmarks; provides improvement recommendations; and identifies best
practices across the industry. In addition, the study compares customer
satisfaction with utility websites to satisfaction with websites in other
industries, such as insurance and credit card.

Heath notes that customers' expectations for their utility's website are based
on their experiences on other sites. The two most important tasks driving
overall satisfaction with utility websites are reviewing account information
and making a payment. Although customer satisfaction with the ability to
review account information is higher than it is with most of the other tasks,
it still falls short when compared to the same task on a credit card company's
website.[1]

"If customers struggle to use the website, then they often go to other
channels, such as calling the utility company's call center, which is a much
more costly transaction for the utility," said Heath. "Investing in the
website may save utility companies money, as well as increase overall customer
satisfaction."

One critical time when customers may need to access their utility's website
from a mobile device is during a power outage. "If they can't use their
computer or their phones are out, customers may not have any other means to
report an outage or get information regarding when power will be restored,"
said Heath. "During a power outage, communication with customers is critical
for immediate and long-term satisfaction with the utility company. Customers
know this, and satisfaction with outage tasks is highest when customers use a
mobile app to complete these tasks."

Among the 75 utility companies included in the study, AEP, OG& E and Southern
Company perform particularly well in overall customer satisfaction with
utility websites when viewed from a desktop computer. DTE Energy, FirstEnergy
and Public Service of New Hampshire perform well in overall satisfaction among
customers who view the website from a mobile device.

The 2013 Utility Website Evaluation Study (UWES) is based on evaluations from
more than 11,000 electric and/or gas residential customers, with 2,819
providing feedback about their online experience using a mobile device. The 75
largest U.S. electric and/or gas companies are included in the study, which
was fielded in February and March 2013.

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a
global marketing information services company providing forecasting,
performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and
solutions. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on
responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car
reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and
more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit
of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
The McGraw-Hill Companies, to be renamed McGraw Hill Financial (subject to
shareholder approval), is a powerhouse in credit ratings, benchmarks and
analytics for the global capital and commodity markets. Leading brands
include: Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Dow Jones
Indices, Platts, CRISIL, J.D. Power and Associates, McGraw-Hill Construction
and Aviation Week. The Company has approximately 17,000 employees in 27
countries. Additional information is available at www.mcgraw-hill.com.

J.D. Power and Associates Media Relations Contacts:
Jeff Perlman; Brandware Public Relations; Woodland Hills, Calif.; (818)
598-1115; jperlman@brandwarepr.com
John Tews; Troy, Mich.; (248) 312-4119; media.relations@jdpa.com

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this
release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and
Associates. www.jdpower.com/corporate.

[1] J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study.^SM

SOURCE J.D. Power and Associates

Website: http://www.jdpower.com