Our last poll question asked whether customers really notice the amount of effort that has gone into upgrading the T&D system over the last couple of decades (see 'But, do customers know the difference?') Here's how our readers responded:

  • Only about seven percent of readers believe that utility customers in general have noticed an improvement in service value
  • About seven percent think that customers are aware of improved service quality, particularly where storm response has significantly improved
  • A surprising 21 percent believe that improved service value will take so long to accomplish that, with a few exceptions, customers will not be aware of the impact of new technologies.
  • And, yes, (ho hum) 60 percent believe most customers think service value is good enough. They’re more focused on keeping the bill from rising.

These results sort of parallel the results of a 2012 J.D. Powers study that concludes:

"Residential customer satisfaction with electric utility companies averages 625 (on a 1,000-point scale), a slight decrease from 628 in 2011. Satisfaction with power quality and reliability, the most important factor in driving satisfaction, has declined by 13 points from 2011. Price satisfaction has increased by 10 points, due to slightly lower monthly bill amounts and fewer customers saying that their financial condition is worse than last year."

"Power quality and reliability is an area where electric utility companies do not always have control, as weather events and storms play a major factor in the quality and reliability of the services provided," said Chris Oberle, senior director of the energy and utility practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Many large storms have impacted satisfaction across the United States, but Hurricane Irene in August and the Halloween Nor'easter in October significantly impacted satisfaction in the East region, which has declined by 20 points from 2011."

So, it's not that thrilling to hear, but utility customers don't seem to notice the little improvements. But they sure notice when something goes wrong (kind of like some bosses I've had).

If this industry wasn't so much fun and paid so well we'd all go elsewhere…