CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new study from Cogent Reports™ names the 20 Most Trusted Business Partners among utilities based on results from its 2015 Commercial Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement study. This study surveyed more than 6,000 business customers of the 59 largest electric and combination utilities in the US.
Brand Trust scores a solid 712 on a 1,000-point scale among commercial utility customers, and is 27 points higher than the recent 685 Brand Trust level posted by residential utility customers. However, there’s room for improvement, particularly for utilities that want to become trusted business partners among their small- and mid-sized business customers.
“Especially among small- and mid-sized businesses, executives want partners that will give them advice and help them grow their business,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Market Strategies International and lead author of the report. “One factor that sets the top 20 apart from their industry peers is their use of digital media. Digital offerings are the perfect way to offer businesses customized messages without necessarily having to assign a full-time account manager.”
The study also shows that, although digital communications are a powerful tool for strengthening the relationship between utilities and their commercial customers, few utilities are reaping the full benefit of offering these electronic avenues of support.
Commercial customers who had heard from their energy utility via social media scored their power provider 89 points higher on a 1,000-point Brand Trust scale. And yet, only 29% of survey respondents were aware of their utility’s social media presence.
“Electronic access overall–whether it’s social media, online portals or mobile outage alerts‒seems to really push scores up,” continued Oberle. “Digital offerings are a way for utilities to position themselves as trusted business partners for their customers.”
Among individual utilities, AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) distinguished itself with a top score of 802. Oberle noted that the utility has leveraged digital tools to support economic development in its Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas territories. Other top regional scorers include APS, NYSEG and DTE Energy. Overall, Cogent named 20 utilities as the most trusted brands by their respective commercial customers.
“The benefits of becoming a trusted business partner for commercial customers are many,” Oberle said. “Customers who trust their utility are more likely to try utility product offerings, and they are significantly more likely to make positive comments about their utility in their community.”
“In a sense customers become de facto community advocates,” Oberle said. “For a utility trying to build its brand value, there’s nothing more valuable than that.”
2015 Most Trusted Business Partners: AEP SWEPCO, APS, Salt River Project, Rocky Mountain Power, Idaho Power, Alabama Power, DTE Energy, Georgia Power, CPS Energy, Florida Power & Light, Pacific Power, Ameren Illinois, KCP&L, MidAmerican Energy, Portland General Electric, NYSEG, Ohio Edison, Alliant Energy, AEP Ohio, and PPL Electric Utilities.
About Utility Trusted Brand & Engagement Study: Commercial
Cogent Reports conducted surveys among 6,168 commercial electric and combination utility customers of the 59 largest US utility companies (based on commercial customer counts). Utilities within the same region 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.
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.