Spark Energy ranked among the best overall in customer satisfaction among Texas retail electric providers by J.D. Power and Associates in a study.
The J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Texas Residential Retail Electric Provider Customer Satisfaction Study ranked electric providers in five individual categories, including price, billing and payment, communications, customer service and overall satisfaction. To rank the electric companies, J.D. Power used a 1000-point scale, called the Customer Satisfaction Index Rating, as well as a five-star scale, called the Power Circle Rating. Over 8,000 households were surveyed by the report.
Spark Energy received 740 points in the Customer Satisfaction Index Rating, ranking among the best overall and just 5 points behind Champion Energy Services, which placed first. The average ranking for all retail electric providers in the industry was 659. The lowest was 629.
Spark Energy also earned the study’s highest rating of five Power Circles in four out of the five individual categories, including price, communications, customer service and overall satisfaction. Spark Energy earned four out of five Power Circles in the billing and payment category.
Of the 20 retail electric providers in the study, Spark Energy was one of just three to receive five Power Circles in four individual categories and the only provider to receive five Power Circles for both price and customer service. In fact, only one other provider was awarded five Power Circles for price and only one other provider was awarded five Power Circles for customer service.
The study also found that overall satisfaction among residential electric customers of Texas retail electric providers has increased over the last few years. The industry average Customer Satisfaction Index Rating was up 25 points from 2010 and 30 points from 2009.
Additionally, the study found that satisfaction with price improved most compared to the other categories, up 34 points from 2010. J.D. Power noted that the average customer-reported electric bill has declined steadily from $167 in 2009 to $156 in 2010 to $150 in 2011, which is attributed to falling natural gas prices.
Customer Satisfaction and Smart Meters
J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction study included two key findings about smart meters. First, the study found that almost a quarter (24 percent) of all Texas households have a smart meter installed at their home and that those who do are more satisfied than those who don’t. The study also found that customers with smart meters who registered them online at SmartMeterTexas.com to get detailed information on electricity use were substantially more satisfied than smart meter customers who failed to register.
Tips for Shopping for a Retail Electric Provider
According to J.D. Power, the customer satisfaction study revealed four tips that electric customers should use when shopping for a retail electric provider:
- Shop around and do your research before settling on a retail electric provider. Customers who considered more than one provider before making a decision were substantially more satisfied than those who considered just one provider.
- Consider a retail electric provider with good customer service. Customers who chose a provider based solely on low prices were less satisfied. The study found that customers who chose a provider based on customer service were substantially more satisfied than customers who made decisions based on price, reputation, past experience or recommendations from family or friends.
- Consider a fixed-rate plan. Customers who chose a fixed-price electricity plan, which guarantees a set rate for the length of the contract and offers protection from price swings in the market, were much more satisfied than customers who opted for variable pricing plans, which offer no such protections.
- Consider switching if you’re not happy. Among customers who rated their previous provider as “unacceptable” (one point on a 10-point scale) and switched to a new provider, satisfaction shot up to an average of 747 points, almost 90 points higher than the industry average.
“2011 Texas Residential Retail Electric Provider Customer Satisfaction Study,” J.D. Power and Associates press release, Aug. 17, 2011.
J.D. Power and Associates website, “Texas Electric Retailer Ratings.”