Customers like GUC employees, dislike costs
By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector
Friday, September 22, 2017
As GUC crews returned from helping hurricane victims in Florida on Thursday, results from a survey showed local customers like the organization’s employees but still believe they are paying too much for electric service.
The Greenville Utilities Board of Commissioners reviewed the highlights of the 200-page customer satisfaction survey conducted earlier this year during its monthly meeting on Thursday.
“If you have good employees who treat customers good it translates into high satisfaction ratings,” said Scott Mullis, assistant director of customer relations.
Greenville Utilities conducts a periodic customer survey to see if people are satisfied with the service they are receiving and if there are areas that need improvements.
A key performance indicator goal of 80 percent overall satisfaction was set for this survey, Mullis said. The rating came in at 84 percent.
Mullis said this year’s survey showed improvement in every category with high levels of customer satisfaction in customer service, communication, reliability and employee service.
However, the survey also showed that customers are still dissatisfied with costs, especially electric service costs.
Mullis said 84 percent of customers were either satisfied or extremely satisfied overall, with 60 percent giving the highest rating.
When asked to rate “overall utility value” based on what the customer paid, 83 percent were either satisfied or extremely satisfied, with 53 percent giving the highest ranking.
However, the main drivers of dissatisfaction were the perceived value of utility services. Customers believe they paid a high cost of electric service even though GUC has reduced its rate in recent years. Mullis said the most noted reason for giving lower satisfaction ratings was the perception of higher cost.
GUC’s highest score was in customer experiences with employees, Mullis said. Ninety-three percent of respondents said they were either satisfied, 19 percent, or extremely satisfied, 74 percent.
When asked how likely a person would recommend GUC as a utility provider, 74 percent were described as promoters, 13 percent gave passive answers and 13 percent were described as detractors, Mullis said.
“I thought it was impressive that 74 percent were promoters,” Mullis said.
The survey consisted of 600 telephone calls placed in May. Utah-based SDS Research used telephone numbers that customers provided provided GUC.
The survey was approximately seven minutes and for individuals using all four GUC utilities — electric, water, sewer and natural gas — it consisted of about 65 questions. Customers responded using a five-point scale with “5” being extremely satisfied and “1” being extremely dissatisfied.
About 96 percent of participants were electric customers, 60 percent water customers and 37 percent gas customers, which reflects the breakdown of customer usage, Mullis said.
Residents of Lakeland, Fla., where GUC crews helped repair damage from Hurricane Irma, also are impressed with GUC employees, said Tony Cannon, general manager/CEO.
“We have gotten a lot of feedback from customers in Lakeland, Fla.. The folks down there are very appreciative,” Cannon said.
Cannon reported that Lakeland residents used social media to express their gratitude to GUC crews that restored electricity in their neighborhoods.
A 54-man GUC team arrived in Lakeland Sept. 13 and spent a week rebuilding electric lines with several hundred other volunteers.
A woman named Amy York posted a photograph of herself, her wheelchair-bound sons and seven GUC employees.
York’s son had been released from the hospital less than a week before Hurricane Irma struck Florida.
“He already had multiple special needs, but came out of the hospital on a feeding pump 20 hours a day,” York wrote. The family borrowed a generator but “there have still been things we haven’t been able to do for our son (because of limited electric).
“We were on day eight with no power here in Lakeland, Fla. I’m sorry I cried all over (GUC engineer) Jeff Byrd but he was able to give me hope that … they would get our power back!”
In one day, the GUC crew was able to rebuild a segment of Lakeland’s system which restored electricity to about 3,000 customers, Cannon said. After that, “they put our guys on some tough jobs,” in swampy, debris ridden areas.
Cannon said along with congratulating the crew that went to Lakeland, he wanted to recognize the linemen who stayed in Greenville. They took on extra shifts to make it possible for that team to travel to Florida.
The GUC Florida team returned home Thursday to a welcoming party organized by family members.
Contact Ginger Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9570. Follow her on Twitter @GingerLGDR.