As Customer Satisfaction with Utility Service Declines, Top Utilities Focus on Easier Customer Interactions

April 5, 2022

Escalent Names 35 Utilities as the Easiest to Do Business With

Despite customer satisfaction with utility service declining from last year, the best utilities attain top Customer Effort Scores (CES) by making it easier for customers to do business with them. These results are part of the latest Q1 findings from the 2022 Cogent Syndicated Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential report, a management advisory study from Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm.

CES, which scores the ease of doing business with a utility, has declined overall by six points to 732, as all but three of the 23 interactions used to establish this benchmark are rated more difficult this year. The study also finds that 93% of customer satisfaction is tied to CES, meaning higher customer satisfaction is only possible with improvements on customer effort. As utilities evaluate their operations to ensure easy interactions, the study shows one way to improve CES is through proactive digital information. For instance, customers who recall a proactive digital outage information alert (791), a high bill alert (796) or a bill ready alert (769) score their utility higher on CES.

Aligned with this proactive digital approach is a high consumer demand for offerings that make it easier to transact with utilities. More than two-thirds of customers who don’t currently use billing or outage alerts want to use them for easier, self-service ways to resolve issues they would otherwise have to call for service. However, fewer than 20% of those who don’t use these offerings are aware their utility has them. This highlights a significant opportunity for utilities to lower costs and increase satisfaction by promoting service options they already offer.

“High customer satisfaction comes down to awareness and use of offerings that make a customer’s life easier. And digital service options provide the easiest experiences for utility customers. However, many utility customers are just not aware of these offerings,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Escalent. “Anticipating customer service needs and offering solutions before customers initiate contact is the new bar for top-performing utilities. Proactive and self-service options provide the greatest opportunities for exceeding customer expectations.”

Escalent congratulates the recipients of Cogent Syndicated’s 2022 Easiest Utilities to Do Business With recognition. The 35 utilities listed below stand out among the 140 utilities surveyed, as they have developed customer interaction journeys that have made it easier to do business with them.

2022 Easiest Utilities to Do Business With

Utility Customer Effort Score Utility Customer Effort Score
AEP Ohio 740 Intermountain Gas Company 778
Avista 734 Kentucky Utilities 764
BGE 766 New Jersey Natural Gas 760
Black Hills Energy – Midwest 779 NW Natural 773
Cascade Natural Gas 791 Oklahoma Natural Gas 771
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest 743 OPPD 734
Columbia Gas – South 795 OUC 770
Columbia Gas of Ohio 763 Philadelphia Gas Works 777
ComEd 736 Piedmont Natural Gas 783
Consumers Energy 762 PPL Electric Utilities 767
Delmarva Power 754 Public Service Company of Oklahoma 767
Dominion Energy South Carolina 727 Salt River Project 760
Duke Energy Progress 761 SMUD 752
Elizabethtown Gas 763 TECO Peoples Gas 782
Florida City Gas Company 777 UGI Utilities 765
Florida Power & Light 762 Washington Gas 768
Georgia Power 761 Xcel Energy Colorado 753
Idaho Power 764

About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential

Escalent conducted surveys among 79,223 residential electric, natural gas and combination 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 Customer Effort Score is a composite based upon consumer ratings across 23 attributes. Escalent will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request. All scores are based upon a 1,000-point maximum scale.

For more information on the full report, click below.

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