We monitor customer perception of our performance through our Voice of the Customer (VOC) market research initiatives. VOC is a continuous study throughout the year interviewing randomly selected customers about various aspects of Xcel Energy, including reliability, communications, pricing, company programs and customer service.
Xcel Energy continued to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, as reported through our VOC surveys—95 percent of customers were satisfied in 2013. Continued service reliability, ongoing improvements in customer communications and the launch of several new products and services contributed to customer satisfaction.
We continue to focus on customer perception of Xcel Energy’s Overall Value, measured as the quality of our products and services in relation to their cost. Eighty-seven percent of customers rated us favorably on overall value in our 2013 VOC surveys, exceeding our 2013 goal by 2 percentage points.
Xcel Energy is also compared against other utilities through syndicated studies, such as J.D. Power & Associates. We continue to see improvements in our performance across J.D. Power & Associates studies. We placed in the second quartile in the 2013 Residential Electric study, indicating consistent satisfaction among our customers.
|VOC Relationship, Percent Positive (6-10 Scores, 0-10 Scale)|
In recent years, we have improved and increased the channels we use to communicate with customers and have increased our account management programs. This includes enhanced mobile and web access, social media tools and online bill pay services. Delivering superior service and fast, attentive responses to customer needs is at the heart of everything we do.
In 2013, Xcel Energy established a customer experience strategy focused on fine-tuning the company’s customer touch points—critical moments when customers must interact with us—in an initiative called Moments that Matter. The Moments that Matter effort aligns well with Xcel Energy’s new vision and call to action as we shift to a more competitive mindset. The four moments include:
- Start Service
- Building a strong relationship from day one
- Pay My Bill
- Delivering convenience and choice through billing solutions that meet different customer needs
- Understand My Outage
- Providing accurate, relevant and timely information when service goes out and when service is expected to be restored
- Manage My Energy
- Engaging customers by offering the right energy solutions and delivering messages at the right time
Each moment represents a significant impact on customer perception and satisfaction. Xcel Energy has the responsibility to make a positive impression, which will shape future interactions and drive successful business outcomes. Ultimately, changing the customer experience will help increase trust and loyalty.
Xcel Energy introduced a new bill design in 2013 to improve customers’ ability to read and understand their energy bills. Our customer satisfaction surveys revealed that the former bill layout was one of the lowest scoring areas of satisfaction. The new look makes it easy to identify what is owed, how we calculated that amount and when it’s due. We also added more visuals to illustrate customers’ energy use, color to highlight key information and plenty of white space so it’s easier on the eyes.
We have become increasingly proactive about using technology to inform customers about construction work that could affect service or planned outages. This has improved our ability to respond to customer inquiries. Our goal is to provide outage information to customers in the way they prefer to receive it. During major outages, we can utilize various communications channels, such as:
- Online outage mapping
- Specific information on xcelenergy.com
- Upfront messages on our phone system and outage callback options
- Automated calls to customers
Late in 2013 and into 2014, the company improved its website so customers can more easily report outages online and by mobile devices made enhancements to its outage map so customers can better monitor outages and estimated restoration times. These changes are part of the Understand My Outage moment. Meeting this basic customer need for information provides an opportunity to turn an inherently negative experience into a positive one and to increase satisfaction.
Online Account Management
My Account, our online account management tool, provides customers with an up-to-date view of key energy use information and many self-service options. Customers are able to view their past 24 months of billing and payment information, energy consumption information, monthly carbon emissions data and more. They also can enroll in eBill, AutoPay and Averaged Monthly Payment programs and add authorized users to their accounts. In 2013, the company began offering mobile payment options.
During the first quarter of 2014, Xcel Energy launched a new online Preference Center. Located on My Account, the effort gathers customer preferences by asking them what type of energy information they want, and when and how they want it delivered. Other enhancements to My Account were deployed late in 2013 and into 2014 and bring a host of significant improvements. Business customers are also now able to view detailed usage and charges online, a service that wasn’t previously available to them.
In another effort, integration with the energy feedback portal, Opower, allows customers to compare their energy use with similar-sized homes (they may not necessarily be nearby), set energy use goals and learn about efficiency programs. Several other efforts are planned or are already underway for each of the four Moments that Matter.
We continued to extend our reach into the social media world in 2013 to provide new avenues for customers to hear about the company and share their thoughts with us. Our use of social media increases availability and access to important information and allows us to have a more direct dialogue with our customers—answering customer service questions and providing service and outage information in real time. We also use social media to promote energy efficiency and safety, as well as to recruit employee candidates. A study done by an outside consulting company ranked our social media effectiveness and influence as best in class among peer utilities.