Many large utilities resist mobile app development and web redesigns at their peril, says JD Power

In a rapidly changing world where everything from banking to insurance to the dreaded trip to the DMV has gone digital, many utilities are still resisting the forces of modernity by continuing to offer outdated websites and a low adoption of mobile apps. According to the JD Power 2022 U.S. Utility Digital Experience Study, the lack of innovation in utility customer engagement channels comes at the expense of customer satisfaction.

Now in its fifth year, the study assesses how customers interact with their website and mobile app as well as online social, messaging, chat and texting features offered by the 36 largest utilities. of electricity, natural gas and water in the United States.

“About a third of major utilities still don’t have an app,” said Jon Sundberg, senior digital manager at JD Power. “This is inexcusable in today’s environment in which consumers control virtually every other aspect of their lives through smartphones. Utilities have been among the slowest adopters of digital customer engagement technology, based on of all the industries we track at JD Power, and that shows up in the form of declining customer satisfaction scores.However, there’s a silver lining for the small number of utilities that invest in technology, that get significantly higher scores and build much stronger levels of engagement with their customers.

Here are some of the key findings from the 2022 study:

  • Missing out on the app revolution: Roughly a third of utilities rated don’t have an app, though apps consistently outperformed other customer engagement channels among utilities that do — and this is happening across all other JD Power leads as well. of the sector. For example, overall customer satisfaction with the utilities customer service channel is 843 (on a 1000-point scale) for mobile apps versus 817 for the utilities website and 782 for phone interactions. , according to the JD Power 2021 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.
  • The digital experience of utilities declines while other industries rise: Almost every industry studied by JD Power has seen successful digital change initiatives over the past two years. For example, digital experience scores in insurance jumped 11 points, and mobile wealth management app scores jumped 12 points. Utilities’ digital experience scores, on the other hand, fell four points year-over-year, leaving them in line with 2019 customer satisfaction levels.
  • Inability to perform complex tasks: With utility websites largely unchanged over the past year, customers continue to have issues with more complex tasks such as finding energy saving information, updating service and location of leak information.
  • Space to evolve on functionality, ESG awareness: Some utilities provide a roadmap for successful websites and mobile apps, as the top two performing utilities in the study outperform the industry in every task. They also leveraged their digital channels to promote energy-saving measures and other sustainability-focused content.

The 2022 US Utility Digital Experience Study is based on ratings from 10,122 customers of the 36 largest electric, natural gas and water utilities in the United States. To be included in the study, utilities must serve 1,250,000 or more customers. The study was conducted in November-December 2021.

For more information on the US Utility Digital Experience study, click here.

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