By Russ Henderson, Senior Research Manager –

As the world becomes more mobile-driven, utilities increasingly see mobile apps as vital to the customer experience.

While utilities have been slower to adopt mobile apps than some other industries, a solid majority of the largest utilities in the United States and Canada now offer apps, according to Chartwell research.

Average customer ratings of utility apps are lower than those of mobile apps in comparable industries, but that also is likely to change as more utilities seek to provide compelling user experiences.

Chartwell’s latest report on mobile apps provides benchmarks from consumer and industry surveys and uses case studies from utilities with higher-than-average app store ratings to explore best practices.

Here are a few takeaways from the report:

• Utilities foresee a strong focus on mobile apps. Utility industry professionals surveyed by Chartwell named mobile-app and text-based customer service as the most important developments over the next five years.

• Utility apps are rated lower than those of comparable industries, but that may change. Some utility apps are rated highly by users, and the best practices used in their design and development are helpful for other utilities looking to update their mobile customer experience.

• Most utilities now offer an app.Via those apps, most utilities offer outage information and bill details as well as the ability to make a payment, report an outage and manage one’s account. More innovative apps offer other features detailed in the report.

• Awareness is increasing, but there’s still work to do. Customers who use, or are simply aware of, their utility’s mobile app tend to be more satisfied with their utility.

If you are interested in learning about Chartwell’s Online Insight Center or its three Leadership Councils, please reach out to Tim Herrick at therrick@chartwellinc.com.