United’s Recent ACSI Score
Reflects Commitment to Service
As COVID-19 began taking hold during the first quarter of 2020, United Cooperative Services members recorded a satisfaction score of 90 with the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI®) as the pandemic progressed around the globe.
The ACSI® is one of the most recognized customer satisfaction indices in the United States. Created at the University of Michigan Business School, ACSI measures customer satisfaction in more than 46 industries and over 380 companies.
This is the fifth consecutive score of 90 and above the co-op has received, according to Landy Bennett, United chief administrative officer. The results also kept the cooperative’s average for the past four quarters well above scores earned this year by other electric cooperatives across the nation grouped by similar size and collectively by Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, the national brand alliance for electric cooperatives.
“Since 2004, United has chosen to use independent third-party research firm TSE Services to complete a satisfaction survey of our members on a monthly basis so that we can hear immediate feedback on how our members truly feel about their electric cooperative,” Bennett said. “TSE Services also performs these surveys for 52 other member-focused cooperatives across the nation. Within this group, United is proud to be consistently at the top of that list. In the past eight years, United employees have worked hard to be a member-first organization and it has shown to be the right path as the ACSI® score has maintained at an average score of 90.07.”
Throughout the polling history, United’s highest score was a 92 and the lowest score was an 88, which was still one of the leading industry scores noted in an ACSI report issued for September 2014, he said.
United CEO Cameron Smallwood said he was impressed with another 90 showing and gave credit to the commitment United employees had to delivering exceptional service and value even as a global pandemic created the need for quick changes to procedures and flexibility as the situation developed.
“Despite all the trouble in the world, this 90 still demonstrates our cooperative’s commitment to serving the membership,” Smallwood said. “The feedback we’ve received from this first-quarter survey shows our employees continue keeping themselves safe, coming to work and putting the members first to provide exceptional service and value no matter the circumstances. We continue to stick to our principles and hold our head high through these trying times.”
United members who agree to participate in regular quarterly member satisfaction surveys play an important role in improvements the cooperative continually seeks to make in its service delivery to them, he said.
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 and measures customer satisfaction and retention using four standardized questions.
The four questions 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 Cooperative Services receives a proven, independent third-party assessment of member feedback.
Leaders examine each quarterly survey 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 services it offers within its growing service territory.
According to an ACSI assessment released in March 2020, customer satisfaction with the energy utilities sector overall descended for a second straight year, down 1.5 percent to 72.1 on the ACSI®’s 100-point scale. Less reliable electric service and decreased ability to restore power are dimming customer perceptions about the quality of their residential energy utility service. The results are based on interviews conducted over a 12-month period from January to December 2019.
The report also found that as the energy utility sector continues to transform itself, residential customers are not satisfied with the current state of their service. Similar to results from a year ago, the decline in customer satisfaction is widespread.
Among three categories of energy utilities—cooperative, investor-owned, and municipal—there is no improvement, as well as little difference in the industry-level scores. Both investor-owned and municipal energy utilities backtracked 1.4 percent to scores of 72, while cooperative energy utilities tumbled 2.7 percent to 73. These scores place all three categories among the bottom 11 industries in the index. Among individual energy utility companies, the vast majority are flat or down for customer satisfaction compared to a year ago, the report stated.
“All four questions asked by the ACSI® are important in truly gauging a person’s genuine satisfaction with United or any service provider,” Bennett said. “The last question asks members if they had a choice in electrical providers, would they choose United. Our members responded overwhelmingly that they would choose us. That, for me, really is the foundation for establishing whether or not United is doing the job of providing the very best service possible for its members and membership.”