PENSACOLA — Gulf Power ranks among the highest performers in customer satisfaction among electric utilities, according to a recent J.D. Power survey of electric utility customers.
2017 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study ranked utilities in groups separated by region and size. Gulf Power placed third out of 19 in the South Region Midsize Utility Group and had a score among the 10 highest of all 118 investor-owned and municipal utilities included in the study. Midsize energy companies are those with 100,000 to 499,000 residential customers.
"This ranking reflects the dedication of our team and the benefits of continued investment in our grid infrastructure to deliver reliable energy to Northwest Florida communities," said Stan Connally, chair, president and CEO of Gulf Power. "We are honored by this feedback and ranking, but we will also identify ways to better serve our customers."
The Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study, now in its 19th year, ranks customers' opinions in six categories from power quality and reliability, price, and billing and payment, to corporate citizenship, communications and customer service.
JD Power calculated customer satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale with the average score at 719. Gulf Power earned a score of 749, raising the energy company from fourth place in its category a year ago.
The study showed that an increase in power outage communication, along with improved price satisfaction, were top drivers of the sixth consecutive year of improved customer satisfaction with residential electric utility companies.
The study goes on to show that more utility customers (66 percent vs. 59 percent in 2016) are receiving critical information during a power outage, such as the cause of the outage, number of customers affected and estimates on when power will be restored.
Other key findings included that customers believe their utility infrastructure is being updated, electronic bill-pay is increasing, paperless communications are on the rise and website access is going mobile.
Last October, Gulf Power rolled out "Service to Fit Your Life," a program aimed at improving the customer experience, including additional customer-focused initiatives, such as a new website, improved mobile platforms, "live chat" as well as making it more convenient for customers to pay their energy bill at one of more than 200 authorized payment locations across Northwest Florida. Gulf Power also offers payment options like budget billing, which smoothes out customer payments by using a 12-month average that helps customers avoid the higher bills that come from extreme weather months.