United Foils Nature, Continues ‘A’ Game for Second Quarter
Despite significant outages caused by storms and a slew of sneaky snakes breaking into substations, co-op members gave United an American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI®) score of 91 for the second quarter of the 2019.
This was the second quarter in a row for United to have scored a 90 or above, which kept the cooperative’s average for the past four quarters well above scores earned this year by investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives grouped by similar size and collectively by Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, the national brand alliance for electric cooperatives.
More importantly, the snapshot between April and June provided the co-op with an honest appraisal of specific areas that can still be perfected in its mission to deliver exceptional service and value.
United CEO Cameron Smallwood said he was proud of the 91, especially considering the exceptionally stormy summer weather and the troubles created by what industry peers agreed was an excessive snake infestation.
“With all of the challenges we faced in the early part of this summer, I can honestly say we gave it our all to continue providing our membership with exceptional service and value,” Smallwood said. “Despite that, we were holding our breath a little to see how we’d fare, because there was a time where it seemed like Mother Nature just wouldn’t let up. While we repeatedly faced less-than-stellar circumstances, our members rewarded us with a high score of 91, and we are thankful for that. The number demonstrates our cooperative’s commitment to serving the membership, and despite the challenges, the feedback we’ve received from this second-quarter survey shows our employees continue putting the members first to provide exceptional service and value. Compared to other co-ops and for-profit utilities, we’re still at the top of our field.”
United members who agree to give up a brief amount of personal time in their busy schedules to participate in regular quarterly member satisfaction surveys continue to play an important role in improvements the cooperative continually seeks to make in its service delivery to them, he said.
The news comes as the ACSI reports this March that nearly every investor-owned energy utility registers weaker customer satisfaction this year as the industry overall declines 2.7 percent to an ACSI score of 73 in its public Energy Utility Reports 2018-2019. Cooperative utilities continue to have the highest customer satisfaction despite sliding 2.6 percent to 75. Higher prices and extreme weather are largely to blame for waning customer satisfaction among natural gas and electric service providers, according to the report. Customers also report a decline in electric power reliability, putting more pressure on the sector to improve the grid.
Scott J. Saff is manager of research services for North Carolina-based TSE Services. He supervises day-to-day operations on the survey and coordinates data collection, analysis and reporting activities.
“United has consistently ranked among the highest-rated cooperatives for member satisfaction participating in the TSE Services Member Satisfaction Tracking Survey,” Saff said. “Nearly 70 electric cooperatives nationwide participate in this quarterly assessment of member satisfaction. United’s ACSI score is significantly higher than scores for all energy sector entities referenced in the report.”
The ACSI analyzes customer satisfaction for 10 economic sectors and 46 key industries that together represent a broad swath of the national economy. The index’s scientific model provides key insights into the entire customer experience as well as indications of micro and macroeconomic performance. The ACSI measures customer satisfaction and retention using four standardized questions, which focus on the following attributes: overall satisfaction, confirmation of expectations, comparison to an ideal utility company and intention to choose said utility again.
Through TSE Services data collection and the ACSI’s satisfaction metrics, United receives a proven, independent third-party assessment of member feedback.
Every quarterly survey United receives is pored over to pinpoint areas within the cooperative’s control that can be improved. Member feedback allows the co-op to make timely shifts and adjustments in the portfolio of services it offers within its growing service territory.
“United’s score is not only outstanding for the utility sector, but for any industry for that matter,” Saff said. “Quarter after quarter, United remains a leader among the nation’s electric cooperatives. There’s a lot to be said about the consistency in the scores United receives. You’re not a one-hit wonder when it comes to member satisfaction.”