Oklahoma Natural Gas topped the list of regional gas utilities in the latest customer satisfaction rankings by J.D. Power and Associates as residential consumers said they were pleased with the lower cost of the fuel.
ONG, a division of Tulsa-based ONEOK Inc., received 680 points overall in the south regional rankings of large gas utilities. ONG tied a South Carolina utility for the top score nationwide.
“We work each day to improve as an organization and to exceed our customers' expectations,” said Cherokee Ballard, spokeswoman for the utility. “The J.D. Power award is an indication that we're having some success. Our goal now is to ensure that we work even harder to continue to improve our service.”
The J.D. Power survey measures residential consumer satisfaction in six areas: billing and payment; price; corporate citizenship; communications; customer service; and field service. The survey is in its 11th year.
Nationwide, the average overall score was 634, up from 627 in 2011, J.D. Power said. Scores are on a 1,000-point scale.
Utilities appear to be benefiting from low natural gas prices. Customer satisfaction from price averaged 570, up 14 points from last year. Fewer customers recalled hearing about natural gas price increases from their utilities, the survey found.
The average monthly residential gas bill was $78, down from $87 a year ago.
“Each year, as natural gas prices continue to drop, satisfaction with price will continue to be positively affected,” said John Hazen, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power. “Additionally, both communication and customer service efforts by utility providers are also contributing to the overall satisfaction increases from last year.”
Meanwhile, customer satisfaction scores are higher at utilities offering energy-efficiency programs. Ballard said ONG recently won approval from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for its latest energy-efficiency program, which educates customers on the benefits of natural gas and how to get rebates for high-efficiency gas appliances.