Ameren below average in customer satisfaction

Ameren below average in customer satisfaction

PEORIA — Ameren Illinois, the main electric utility company for downstate Illinois, again finished below the national average in a ranking of customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates.

The Peoria-based utility, which serves the Champaign-Urbana and Danville areas, ranked 97th of the 126 largest electric utility companies in the country.

Residential customer satisfaction with electric utilities nationally averages 625 on a 1,000-point scale. Ameren Illinois' score was 608. Among large Midwestern utilities, only Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison had a lower score, 579.

St. Louis-based Ameren Missouri had a score of 611. The average score for a large Midwestern utility was 617.

This year's Ameren Illinois rating is an improvement. Last year it scored 598, placing it 106th of 124 electric utilities.

And Ameren Illinois spokesman Leigh Morris said the utility's customer-satisfaction survey results are more positive and have steadily improved since 2007.

"We measure customer satisfaction with our call centers — it's called the Customer Contact Index — and we've shown steady improvements since 2007," he said. "That was a low point. The company faced great financial challenges. We've focused on restoring customer confidence through performance, not through words."

In 2007, Morris said, just 68 percent of customers gave the company a score of 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. Last year, 83 percent did so, he said, and so far this year, 84 percent did so.

"The CCI is a measure of customers who had a contact with customer service, measuring their response to the contact," Morris said.

A separate rating — the Field Operations Customer Survey, which measures customer satisfaction with field work such as upgrades, new connections and response to gas leaks — was 85 last year and is 87 so far this year, he said.

"We think these are very important measurements. If you just did an at-random survey, you may be talking to people who never had a contact, or it's been 10 years since they had a contact. We feel this is a very valid way of measuring our performance," Morris said.

The J.D. Power survey is broader, and measures different factors including power quality and reliability, price, billing and payment, corporate citizenship, communications and customer service.

Ameren Illinois' rankings in the J.D. Power survey have been below the national and Midwestern averages since 2006. Prior to that it was above the Midwestern average. Its worst years were 2008 and 2010, when it was the lowest-rated large Midwestern electric utility.

The highest-rated large Midwestern utility this year is MidAmerican Energy, based in Des Moines, Iowa, with a score of 666. The highest-rated midsize Midwestern electric utility is Omaha Public Power District with a score of 677.

The highest-rated large electric utility in the country is SRP in Arizona, which got a rating of 700. The overall highest-rated electric utility in the country is NOVEC, the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative, with a rating of 714.

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MadGasser wrote on July 12, 2012 at 8:07 am
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Gee, there's a shocker. The monopoly that supplies almost all the power in downstate Illinois has a poor customer service rating. *eye roll*

Lostinspace wrote on July 12, 2012 at 9:07 am

They got us through the heat wave without an outage. It deserves appreciation.

thelowedown wrote on July 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Yes, it deserves appreciation because be a responsive, customer-oriented company only matters and should only get credit for two weeks per year even though it provides the electricity that enables the engines of human economy and is unresponsive, and solely profit-motivated for fifty weeks per year.

BeingTheMartian wrote on July 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm

We just moved back to South Dakota from Champaign. I've asked five or six people here about their power bill. The highest I've heard is $90 per month (for gas and electricity). The lowest is less than $50. These folks are on the budget plan so their payment is the same each month. When I lived in Champaign, my bill was never lower than $210 per month, and was usually much higher, even though I conserved and conserved and conserved. It's ridiculous, and I'm extremely glad I don't have to deal with it anymore.

goinfast00 wrote on July 13, 2012 at 7:07 am

MY personal experience: I'm 4...........thnxs to

ameren 0!!

increvable wrote on July 14, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Here's the full press release from JD Power.

I wish they'd released this data in a more easily computable format. I'm curious how the customer satisfaction ratings compare when broken down among privately held companies, public utilities, & cooperatives, and when broken down w/r/t total population and population density in the service area.