Omaha Public Power District is among the highest-scoring utilities nationwide in a new study that gauges the ease of conducting business with a utility.
The results are part of the latest first-quarter findings from the 2022 Cogent Syndicated Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential report, a management advisory study from Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm. Despite general customer satisfaction with utility service declining from last year, the best utilities attain top Customer Effort Scores (CES) by making it easier for customers to do business with them.
OPPD is one of 35 standouts among 140 utilities surveyed.
“We are really proud to be among the utilities recognized for developing a customer journey that makes it easier to do business with us, and I’m glad that our customer experience improvement efforts are producing results for our customers,” said Tim McAreavey, OPPD vice president of Customer Service.
As utilities evaluate their operations to ensure easy interactions, the study shows one way to improve CES is through proactive digital information.
OPPD has enhanced our digital presence in recent years by using the popular social platform Nextdoor to share when work is being done in area neighborhoods or roadway corridors. We also engage with customers across other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, attempting to meet customers where they already are, to make meeting their service needs more convenient.
Aligned with this proactive digital approach is a high consumer demand for offerings that make it easier to transact with utilities. The study found that more than two-thirds of customers who do not currently use billing or outage alerts want to use them for easier, self-service ways to resolve issues for which they would otherwise have to resolve through a call for service. However, fewer than 20% of those who do not use these offerings are aware their utility has them. This highlights a significant opportunity for utilities to lower costs and increase satisfaction by promoting service options they already offer.
OPPD continues to expand self-service offerings on our website to make it easier for customers to do business with us and to make services available 24/7/365. Today, customers can sign up for products and product rebates using self-service options at OPPD.com. They can also apply for electric service, update elements of their account, and make payments.
“We do not have to drive customers to use self-service channels -- they do so on their own,” said Stacey Bryant, manager of OPPD Customer Care Services, “and this seems to be influencing customer satisfaction in a very positive way.”
Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Escalent, said high customer satisfaction comes down to awareness and use of offerings that make a customer’s life easier.
“Digital service options provide the easiest experiences for utility customers. However, many utility customers are just not aware of these offerings,” he said. “Anticipating customer service needs and offering solutions before customers initiate contact is the new bar for top-performing utilities. Proactive and self-service options provide the greatest opportunities for exceeding customer expectations.”