According to the latest E SOURCE market research study, 51% of Internet users in the United States and Canada now pay at least one monthly bill online. That represents a substantial increase over the results of the company's 2004 research. At that time, only 33% of Internet users were making online payments.

In 2005, the Pew Internet & American Life Project reported a relatively small increase -- around 38% of Internet users were paying a monthly bill online. According to Andrew Heath, director of Customer Satisfaction Services at E SOURCE and one of the new study's authors, "Our current finding is important because it indicates a major shift in customer behavior over the past four years." He added that the new research also found that "16% of the people who have used a utility's interactive voice reponse (IVR) system have used it to make a monthly payment."

E SOURCE surveyed over 1000 residential electric and gas utility customers across the United States and Canada for this latest research. The results will be analyzed in the 2008 E SOURCE Self-Service Customer Care market research study due to be released in September 2008. This unique customer-focused study will identify and quantify residential customers' experiences, preferences, and expectations about their electric and gas utilities' IVR systems and web sites.

"What makes this study valuable to utilities is that they can learn what functionality their customers want and can then incorporate those features into their own self-service customer channels," said Sandy Goodwin, director of the E SOURCE Utility Customer Care Service and also an author of the study. "In addition, the research reveals how satisfied these customers are with their current customer service experiences."

The study provides regional as well as aggregated data and insights on:

  • Which customers are using utility IVRs and web sites?
  • What self-service features are customers looking for when they use
    these channels?
  • Do customers prefer touch-tone or speech-recognition IVRs?

Utilities can also request results specific to their communities, states, provinces, or regions. Additional residential customers in a specific market can be sampled to develop comparisons with the broader U.S. and Canadian study sample.