Utility Customer Engagement Grows as the Industry Focuses on ESG Principles

·7 min read

Escalent Names 45 Utilities as 2021 Customer Champions

LIVONIA, Mich., December 09, 2021--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The utility industry’s focus on its customers, communities and the environment throughout the pandemic has elevated its customer engagement, a critical factor in growing company value and influencing energy customer behaviors. Escalent’s ECR (engaged customer relationship) Index, a comprehensive customer relationship measurement used by utility management to assess customer engagement, has grown a significant eight points since pre-pandemic levels in 2019 to a strong 721 (on a 1,000-point maximum scale). ECR has improved as a result of utilities’ increasing support for environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts. These findings are based upon data from the 2021 Cogent Syndicated Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential study by top human behavior and analytics advisory firm Escalent.

Essential to the ECR scoring improvement is proactive outreach. The study shows a 23% increase in utility communication spending since 2019. About three in four (73%) communication topics are focused on ESG. And the communication has paid off, as more than one in three customers (36%) is now highly engaged with his or her utility, 33% use energy-efficiency offerings, 63% use digital or smart energy offerings and 16% use revenue-generating home services offerings.

"What makes the gains in customer engagement most impressive is it strengthened despite increasing bill amounts as service satisfaction metrics remained similar to prior years," said Chris Oberle, senior vice president, Escalent. "Utilities have ramped up their outreach and ESG focus during the pandemic and the positive impact on their customer relationships was almost immediate. The nation’s best utilities are strong and engaging brands customers look to as trusted energy advisers."

One area of focus for continued growth in customer engagement is more effective communication in suburban and rural areas. While urban areas have grown customer engagement by a large 19 points since 2019 and now have an average ECR score of 745, suburban (711) and rural (705) customers score their utilities much lower.

Based upon the study, which surveyed customers of 140 electric and natural gas utilities nationwide, we are pleased to name 45 utilities as 2021 Customer Champions. These utilities are the industry’s best at engaging customers in meaningful and profitable ways.

Escalent 2021 Customer Champions

AEP Ohio

Florida City Gas Company

Pepco

Ameren Illinois

Florida Power & Light

Philadelphia Gas Works

Ameren Missouri

Georgia Power

Piedmont Natural Gas

Avista

Green Mountain Power

PPL Electric Utilities

BGE

Idaho Power

PSE&G

Black Hills Energy – Midwest

Intermountain Gas Company

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

Cascade Natural Gas

Kentucky Utilities

RG&E

Columbia Gas – South

MidAmerican Energy

Salt River Project

Columbia Gas of Ohio

Montana-Dakota Utilities

SMUD

Con Edison

New Jersey Natural Gas

Spire Mississippi

Consumers Energy

Nicor Gas

TECO Peoples Gas

Delmarva Power

NW Natural

UGI Utilities

Dominion Energy South Carolina

Oklahoma Natural Gas

Washington Gas

DTE Energy

OPPD

Wisconsin Public Service

Elizabethtown Gas

OUC

Xcel Energy – West

EAST REGION: Customer Engagement Benchmark Performance

Utility brand name

ECR score

Utility type

Con Edison

734

Combination

Delmarva Power

733

Combination

BGE

732

Combination

PSE&G

731

Combination

National Grid

721

Combination

RG&E

721

Combination

PECO

712

Combination

Eversource

664

Combination

NYSEG

664

Combination

PPL Electric Utilities

742

Electric

Green Mountain Power

741

Electric

Pepco

734

Electric

Duquesne Light Company

717

Electric

Penn Power

713

Electric

Met-Ed

708

Electric

West Penn Power

707

Electric

Penelec

706

Electric

Potomac Edison

695

Electric

Atlantic City Electric

692

Electric

Appalachian Power

680

Electric

Mon Power

679

Electric

PSEG Long Island

663

Electric

Jersey Central Power & Light

653

Electric

Central Maine Power

646

Electric

Washington Gas

770

Natural Gas

Elizabethtown Gas

763

Natural Gas

UGI Utilities

763

Natural Gas

Philadelphia Gas Works

755

Natural Gas

New Jersey Natural Gas

752

Natural Gas

National Fuel Gas

748

Natural Gas

South Jersey Gas Company

737

Natural Gas

Peoples

723

Natural Gas

Columbia Gas – East

702

Natural Gas

MIDWEST REGION: Customer Engagement Benchmark Performance

Utility brand name

ECR score

Utility type

Consumers Energy

758

Combination

Wisconsin Public Service

758

Combination

Black Hills Energy – Midwest

751

Combination

Montana-Dakota Utilities

747

Combination

Ameren Illinois

742

Combination

DTE Energy

741

Combination

MidAmerican Energy

740

Combination

Xcel Energy – Midwest

729

Combination

Alliant Energy

726

Combination

NIPSCO

713

Combination

Duke Energy Midwest

712

Combination

We Energies

700

Combination

Vectren

659

Combination

AEP Ohio

725

Electric

OPPD

724

Electric

Ameren Missouri

721

Electric

Toledo Edison

718

Electric

ComEd

711

Electric

Indiana Michigan Power

706

Electric

Ohio Edison

697

Electric

The Illuminating Company

692

Electric

Evergy

690

Electric

AES Indiana

683

Electric

AES Ohio

657

Electric

Columbia Gas of Ohio

757

Natural Gas

Nicor Gas

737

Natural Gas

Peoples Gas

736

Natural Gas

CenterPoint Energy – Midwest

732

Natural Gas

Spire Missouri – East

725

Natural Gas

Atmos Energy – Midwest

724

Natural Gas

Dominion Energy Ohio

718

Natural Gas

Kansas Gas Service

717

Natural Gas

Spire Missouri – West

714

Natural Gas

Citizens Energy

685

Natural Gas

SOUTH REGION: Customer Engagement Benchmark Performance

Utility brand name

ECR score

Utility type

Dominion Energy South Carolina

709

Combination

Louisville Gas & Electric

702

Combination

CPS Energy

694

Combination

MLGW

662

Combination

OUC

762

Electric

Kentucky Utilities

754

Electric

Florida Power & Light

751

Electric

Public Service Company of Oklahoma

748

Electric

Georgia Power

747

Electric

Mississippi Power

736

Electric

Duke Energy Progress

732

Electric

Entergy Mississippi

730

Electric

TECO Tampa Electric

728

Electric

Entergy Arkansas

727

Electric

Dominion Energy Virginia

726

Electric

OG&E

724

Electric

Nashville Electric Service

720

Electric

El Paso Electric

717

Electric

Xcel Energy – South

717

Electric

Alabama Power

715

Electric

Entergy Texas

714

Electric

Duke Energy Carolinas

713

Electric

Duke Energy Florida

713

Electric

JEA

713

Electric

Southwestern Electric Power Company

709

Electric

Entergy Louisiana

708

Electric

Gulf Power

702

Electric

Austin Energy

679

Electric

Entergy New Orleans

664

Electric

Kentucky Power

662

Electric

Florida City Gas Company

784

Natural Gas

Columbia Gas – South

775

Natural Gas

Piedmont Natural Gas

772

Natural Gas

TECO Peoples Gas

771

Natural Gas

Oklahoma Natural Gas

759

Natural Gas

Spire Mississippi

759

Natural Gas

Dominion Energy North Carolina

750

Natural Gas

CenterPoint Energy – South

749

Natural Gas

Virginia Natural Gas

740

Natural Gas

Spire Alabama

739

Natural Gas

Atmos Energy – South

734

Natural Gas

Texas Gas Service

734

Natural Gas

Chattanooga Gas Company

724

Natural Gas

Spire Gulf Coast

695

Natural Gas

WEST REGION: Customer Engagement Benchmark Performance

Utility brand name

ECR score

Utility type

Xcel Energy – West

747

Combination

Avista

734

Combination

Colorado Springs Utilities

720

Combination

SDG&E

707

Combination

NorthWestern Energy

706

Combination

Puget Sound Energy

705

Combination

Black Hills Energy – West

700

Combination

PG&E

666

Combination

Salt River Project

754

Electric

Idaho Power

747

Electric

SMUD

746

Electric

Portland General Electric

728

Electric

Tucson Electric Power

727

Electric

Seattle City Light

723

Electric

Pacific Power

715

Electric

Southern California Edison

712

Electric

NV Energy

701

Electric

Rocky Mountain Power

701

Electric

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

700

Electric

PNM

695

Electric

APS

690

Electric

Cascade Natural Gas

766

Natural Gas

Intermountain Gas Company

765

Natural Gas

NW Natural

761

Natural Gas

Dominion Energy – West

745

Natural Gas

SoCalGas

740

Natural Gas

Southwest Gas

723

Natural Gas

New Mexico Gas Company

700

Natural Gas

About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential

Escalent conducted surveys among 78,710 residential electric and natural gas utility customers of the 140 largest US utility companies (based on residential customer counts). The sample design uses a combination of quotas and weighting based on US census data to ensure a demographically balanced sample of each evaluated utility’s customers based on age, gender, income, race and ethnicity. Utilities within the same region and of the same type (e.g., electric-only providers) are given equal weight to balance the influence of each utility’s customers on survey results. The Engaged Customer Relationship (ECR) index is a composite score based upon a 360-degree consumer review of how engaged customers are with their energy utility provider. Scores are composed of ratings across service satisfaction, brand and product experiences. Escalent will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request.

About Escalent

Escalent is a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm specializing in industries facing disruption and business transformation. As catalysts of progress for more than 40 years, we transform data and insight into a profound understanding of what drives human beings. And we help businesses turn those drivers into actions that build brands, enhance customer experiences and inspire product innovation. Visit escalent.co to see how we are helping shape the brands that are reshaping the world.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211209005229/en/

Contacts

Sarah Keller, 734.779.6847
sarah.keller@escalent.co

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