North Carolina’s electric cooperatives lead energy utilities in customer satisfaction in the 2019 Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives National Survey on the Cooperative Difference, an annual survey that gauges the satisfaction and engagement of electric cooperative members. The state’s cooperatives received an average score of 84 out of 100 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), exceeding the national average for other electric co-ops across the country (77) and the national average for Touchstone Cooperatives (75). Investor-owned utilities and municipal utilities scored averages of 73 and 72 respectively.
The state’s electric cooperatives also exceeded the national benchmark on Member Engagement Index scores, with an average of 74.9, compared to a benchmark of 72.6. This index supplements the ACSI index by providing a key performance indicator that includes attributes unique to the cooperative business model like satisfaction measures, member and owner identity, looking out for members’ best interests, being a name they can always trust, and helping them manage energy costs.
In addition to the ACSI score and Member Engagement Index, the annual survey also includes performance ratings in nearly 20 core service areas, along with membership demographics and data on technology, electric vehicles, demand response programs, community engagement and other activities of importance to electric cooperatives.
Survey results indicate that technology adoption by electric co-op members is accelerating. More than 30 percent of younger members owning smart devices now have a smart thermostat, and well over 80 percent have wireless networks in their home. These technologies enable demand response programs and help members more actively manage their energy costs.
Over half of the NC co-op members surveyed (59 percent) were either very likely or somewhat likely to participate in demand responses programs, exceeding the national survey benchmark group. Overall likelihood to purchase an electric vehicle has also grown among NC co-op members over the past year, with the percentage of members very likely or likely to purchase an EV increasing from 12 to 21 percent.
The survey is conducted annually by TSE Services, a cooperatively owned market research organization established by North Carolina’s electric cooperatives. Seventy cooperatives across 21 states, including 23 from North Carolina, participated in this year’s study, which resulted in more than 17,500 interviews with residential members across the nation. Half of the interviews were completed online, and half were completed over landline or mobile phones.
“The results of this year’s survey indicate that North Carolina’s electric cooperatives continue to be highly regarded by their consumer-members,” said Scott Saff, manager of research services for TSE Services and North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “They also demonstrate that cooperative members in our state are increasingly receptive to new energy technologies, and it’s important that we continue investing in innovative solutions that will support evolving consumer expectations and position electric cooperatives for future success.”