CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cogent™ Energy Reports, a division of Market Strategies International, released customer satisfaction rankings for the nation’s 127 largest electric and gas utilities. Results overall are extremely high, with operational satisfaction scores across all providers averaging 725 on a 1,000-point scale. Seventy-seven percent, or 98 utilities, achieved a high score of at least 710. However, additional analysis by Cogent reveals that other factors, including trust, are critical to deepening customer engagement and delivering tangible benefits to utilities. These and other findings are included in Utility Trusted Brand & Engagement: Residential study, based on research conducted throughout 2014 among 40,000 residential customers.
Chris Oberle, senior vice president of Market Strategies and author of the report, praised companies for their strong performance on operational satisfaction.
“These results reflect the many improvements and investments that utilities have made in their operations over the last decade, and companies have a right to be proud,” says Oberle. “However, increasing operational satisfaction further will require massive spending and is likely to deliver only incremental improvements. Companies seeking to strengthen their relationships with customers should instead focus more attention on building brand trust.”
Cogent found that brand trust explains more than half (53%) of the variability observed in operational satisfaction scores. Specifically, among six trust-related attributes, customers’ belief that their utility is “dedicated to continuous quality and reliability” shows the greatest impact.
Trust also makes a difference when customers actually experience an outage. In fact, Cogent found that among customers experiencing an outage, those customers with strong brand trust report significantly higher levels of operational satisfaction than do those with low levels of trust (average score of 760 vs. 717, respectively).
“On reliability, since 80% of customers don’t actually experience an outage, just being ready isn’t enough. It’s critical for utilities to invest the time and effort in building the belief and perception among customers that they are prepared to handle a problem if and when it occurs,” continues Oberle. “This is playing out this week as snowstorms roll through the East coast. Those utilities with trusted brands will likely fair better with their customers.”
According to Oberle, “When customers begin to see their utility as a “trusted advisor,” they are not only more optimistic about the relationship, but they are also more forgiving.”
About Utility Trusted Brand & Engagement Study: Residential
Cogent Energy Reports conducted surveys among 40,000 residential electric and natural gas utility customers of the 127 largest US utility companies (based on residential customer counts) across 2 waves during 2014 (April/May and September/October). Two reports were published in 2014, one in early June, which reports on the April/May data, and one in late November, which reports on all data collected in 2014. The sample design uses US census data and strict quotas 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 in order to balance the influence of each utility’s customers on survey results. Market Strategies will supply the exact wording of any survey questions upon request.
Cogent Reports’ ECR™ Index scores comprise 3 component scores for operational satisfaction, product experience and brand trust, based on 12 underlying strategic factors and 55 unique attributes. Annual rankings are determined by a blend of 2 seasonally adjusted factor weighting models.
About Market Strategies International
Market Strategies International is a market research consultancy with deep expertise in consumer/retail, energy, financial services, healthcare, technology and telecommunications. The firm is ISO 20252 certified, reflecting its commitment to providing intelligent research, designed to the highest levels of accuracy, with meaningful results that help companies make confident business decisions.
Market Strategies conducts qualitative and quantitative research in 75 countries, and its specialties include brand, communications, CX, product development, segmentation and syndicated. Its syndicated products, known as Cogent Reports, help clients understand the market environment, explore industry trends and monitor their brand and products within the competitive landscape. Founded in 1989, Market Strategies is one of the largest market research firms in the world, with offices in the US, Canada and China. Read Market Strategies’ blog at FreshMR, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.