EnergyLines June 2020
Since 2004, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) has provided cooperatives actionable information to help improve member satisfaction and engagement. A recent survey shows that co-op member satisfaction has been on the decline during the past five years. Affecting the downward trend is how younger members view their co-op.
Data shows that length of membership has a positive impact on engagement. With more than 70 percent of member-consumers under the age of 45 having less than 10 years of membership, their engagement and trust are reduced.
As young member-consumers show a low level of satisfaction, potentially due to a higher bill to income ratio, connecting with this demographic through electronic platforms to help them manage their energy use is effective. Survey results identify that those under 45 are twice as likely to turn to the internet, and not their co-op, for efficiency information.
Henry County REMC engages with 45-and-under members by being where they are online – often Facebook.
“We continuously communicate with younger members to help them understand that reducing their energy use can have an impact on their bill,” said Lara Sullivan, Manager of Marketing and Member Services.
Sullivan identifies highly-focused yet short communications to engage with this group. She turns to Facebook the most because the format is based on brevity. She says that being where member-consumers are and simply listening to their concerns is a strong combination that helps make positive connections.
“When an outage occurs, I use this time to offer education. At that moment, the member may be frustrated with the power loss, however they are open to learn how things work, what’s involved with restoration, etc. While power is being restored, I often receive messages about efficiency or program opportunities. I find that they are appreciative when I listen to their concerns during times like this,” said Sullivan.
Once member-consumers experience how their co-op can help them manage their energy use, 91 percent of ACSI respondents state they would return for similar information.
The ACSI research verifies that increased member engagement helps improve their willingness to advocate for the co-op and support demand response efforts.
The 2019 national survey was conducted between April and July. This included 70 cooperatives across 21 states with more than 17,500 interviews among residential members.