With today’s Newsday article on LIPA, the paper finally discovered the obscure customer satisfaction measurement which has routinely been buried in the utility’s monthly operating report.
On several occasions it was pointed out in the public comment period of the monthly meeting of LIPA’s Board of Trustees that their customer satisfaction rating technique was faulty and produced favorable results not corresponding to ratings reported by JD Power Associates and a group affiliated with the University of Michigan. In those surveys the results for LIPA put the utility near the bottom of the list compared to other companies in terms of customer satisfaction.
LIPA’s technique for measuring customer satisfaction was put in place a couple of years ago to enable National Grid to easily meet a metric which would pay them a bonus. Under an earlier version of measurement this was not happening. The fact that now, even with this new crude measurement, customer satisfaction levels are falling is mind boggling. One can only wonder how low the ratings will be in the next JD Power Associates report.
All of this is further support and a strong argument for PSC oversight of LIPA. The ratepayers of LI need protection and a trustworthy source to turn to when LIPA turns a deaf ear to their needs.
By MARK HARRINGTON NEWSDAY
The Long Island Power Authority‘s customer satisfaction rating plummeted in August and September to the “lowest observed” in two years of measuring, according to a recently released operating report.
The 10-point rating drop for those months followed a 3-point dip in July. The rating is based on interviews with 400 customers asked to grade satisfaction with LIPA on a 1-10 scale.
The overall rating for August — 75 percent — was affected by “major storms, floods [and] hurricanes” in the LIPA region, according to the report.
The survey, taken throughout the month, scores customer satisfaction over 12 months, and can prompt LIPA to penalizeNational Grid if it’s below 83.3 percent averaged over a year. The 12-month score is currently 87.2 percent.
LIPA said Wednesday that the August rating was repeated in September, although it was not listed in the report.
The utility’s performance in answering customer questions or settling requests on the first call has been dropping since June, reaching a two-year low of 60 percent in August, the report said.
Tropical Storm Irene hit Long Island Aug. 29, knocking out power to 523,000 customers.Philip Walsh, whose Ronkonkoma home lost power for a nearly week in the wake of Irene, said he’d rate the utility a “minus 10.”
“I called every day, at least a few times a day, and in the end they told me they didn’t realize our power had been off,” he said.
LIPA spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said efforts to improve performance were under way, including appointment of a newNational Grid vice president of customer service dedicated to LIPA and a new call center director.