Leading Utilities Increase Customer Engagement by Delivering on Value

December 14, 2023

Escalent Recognizes 34 Utilities as 2023 Customer Champions

A new Cogent Syndicated report from Escalent finds as the impact of inflation and higher energy prices continues to reverberate through the Energy industry, the overall perception that utilities are offering reasonable rates for the services they provide is seeing a persistent decline, leading to an overall drop in customer engagement.

Despite the decline in customer engagement, 34 outstanding utilities, recognized today as Escalent’s 2023 Customer Champions, have scored well above their industry peers in building engaged customer relationships. These utilities have demonstrated their value beyond basic energy service delivery and communicated that value to customers.

Those are some of the latest findings of the 2023 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential study, which tracks the performance of 141 gas, electric and combination utilities to identify brand and customer experience opportunities and trends in the industry. The report is published semiannually by Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm with extensive energy, utility and brand experience.

After reaching a peak of 728 from a maximum possible score of 1,000 at the end of 2020, the residential Engaged Customer Relationship (ECR) score has been steadily declining and now stands at 702. While Customer Champion utilities did not emerge from 2023 unscathed—approximately 50% of them saw some degree of ECR score loss from Q4’22—they still performed significantly better than the industry as a whole.

The study found that customers’ average reported utility bill amount, which has been ticking up for several years, is now 20% higher than it was at the end of 2019, and more than one-third of customers are facing energy utility bills of more than $200 a month. Last year, utilities that were successfully communicating to customers about customer programs and bill management opportunities saw higher ECR scores; this year, higher-performing utilities saw success by demonstrating their value to customers.

“Facing higher prices across spending categories, many consumers are carefully reevaluating their expenses,” said Suzanne Haggerty, director of syndicated research with the Energy team at Escalent. “Utility customers are trying to identify how they benefit from the increased energy prices they’re paying, and many are unable to do so.”

Customer Champions outperformed the industry average in several attributes, notably:

  • Customer Champions are providing more effective outage communication to affected customers, contributing to 5% higher Safety & Reliability Index scores.
  • Customer Champions are clearly and effectively communicating the benefits offered by their opt-in programs, leading to 7% higher Product Benefits Awareness Index scores.
  • Customer Champions are providing transparent updates on their environmental objectives, leading to 6% higher Environmental Index scores.

In addition to optimizing the customer experience, Customer Champions are reinforcing their value proposition to customers through more effective and consistent communication. The Communications Intensity Index, an indication of utility communication spending, for Customer Champions is 12% higher than the industry average, and their customers report higher recall of messages related to service reliability, renewable energy, ease of service interactions and the ways the utility is supporting a clean environment.

“As inflation persists and many customers continue to see higher utility bills, utilities that focus on affordability, transparency, innovation and community engagement will deliver value that resonates with customers,” Haggerty continued.

Escalent is pleased to name these 34 utilities as our 2023 Customer Champions.

Cogent Syndicated 2023 Customer Champions*
Atmos Energy – South NIPSCO
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest NW Natural
Chattanooga Gas Company OUC
Columbia Gas of Ohio PECO
Con Edison Penn Power
Consumers Energy Peoples Gas
Dominion Energy South Carolina Philadelphia Gas Works
Duquesne Light Company Piedmont Natural Gas
Elizabethtown Gas PSE&G
Florida City Gas Company Puget Sound Energy
Georgia Power Salt River Project
Green Mountain Power SMUD
Idaho Power Southwest Gas
Indiana Michigan Power Spire Mississippi
Intermountain Gas Company TECO Peoples Gas
Montana-Dakota Utilities Washington Gas
New Jersey Natural Gas Xcel Energy – Midwest

*Utilities named as Customer Champions are selected based on having Engaged Customer Relationship Index scores in the top decile of the industry, the top score within their respective benchmark segment, or an Engaged Customer Relationship Index score within 20 points of the top benchmark segment score and above the industry average.

The following tables reflect regional peer benchmark Engaged Customer Relationship scores among the 141 utilities surveyed.

East Region Utilities Customer Engagement Performance
Utility brand name Service provided ECR score
PECO Combination 735
Con Edison Combination 732
PSE&G Combination 725
BGE Combination 712
National Grid Combination 703
Delmarva Power Combination 692
Eversource Combination 648
NYSEG Combination 637
Unitil Combination 628
RG&E Combination 608
Green Mountain Power Electric 723
Duquesne Light Company Electric 711
Penn Power Electric 704
Pepco Electric 697
Potomac Edison Electric 692
Atlantic City Electric Electric 691
Mon Power Electric 690
Met-Ed Electric 689
Penelec Electric 687
PSEG Long Island Electric 681
West Penn Power Electric 679
PPL Electric Utilities Electric 670
Jersey Central Power & Light Electric 665
Appalachian Power Electric 653
Central Maine Power Electric 576
Philadelphia Gas Works Natural Gas 744
Elizabethtown Gas Natural Gas 742
Washington Gas Natural Gas 732
New Jersey Natural Gas Natural Gas 732
South Jersey Gas Company Natural Gas 719
Peoples Natural Gas 700
National Fuel Gas Natural Gas 697
UGI Utilities Natural Gas 694
Columbia Gas – East Natural Gas 677


Midwest Region Utilities Customer Engagement Performance
Utility brand name Service provided ECR score
Xcel Energy – Midwest Combination 751
NIPSCO Combination 734
Montana-Dakota Utilities Combination 734
Consumers Energy Combination 731
Black Hills Energy – Midwest Combination 728
DTE Energy Combination 725
Ameren Illinois Combination 723
MidAmerican Energy Combination 719
Duke Energy Midwest Combination 718
Wisconsin Public Service Combination 717
Alliant Energy Combination 710
We Energies Combination 694
CenterPoint Energy – Indiana Combination 577
Indiana Michigan Power Electric 734
Ameren Missouri Electric 709
ComEd Electric 707
OPPD Electric 705
The Illuminating Company Electric 698
Ohio Edison Electric 695
Toledo Edison Electric 693
AEP Ohio Electric 693
Evergy Electric 671
AES Indiana Electric 649
AES Ohio Electric 639
Peoples Gas Natural Gas 742
Columbia Gas of Ohio Natural Gas 742
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest Natural Gas 722
Dominion Energy Ohio Natural Gas 711
Atmos Energy – Midwest Natural Gas 710
Citizens Energy Natural Gas 709
Spire Missouri – East Natural Gas 705
Spire Missouri – West Natural Gas 698
Nicor Gas Natural Gas 686
Kansas Gas Service Natural Gas 684


South Region Utilities Customer Engagement Performance
Utility brand name Service provided ECR score
Dominion Energy South Carolina Combination 744
Louisville Gas & Electric Combination 707
CPS Energy Combination 699
MLGW Combination 622
Georgia Power Electric 767
OUC Electric 749
Mississippi Power Electric 742
Duke Energy Progress Electric 729
Duke Energy Carolinas Electric 728
Alabama Power Electric 728
Duke Energy Florida Electric 727
Florida Power & Light Electric 724
Entergy Arkansas Electric 722
TECO Tampa Electric Electric 721
Nashville Electric Service Electric 713
Public Service Company of Oklahoma Electric 709
Entergy Louisiana Electric 699
Dominion Energy Virginia Electric 698
Xcel Energy – South Electric 686
Entergy Texas Electric 686
OG&E Electric 684
El Paso Electric Electric 682
Entergy Mississippi Electric 681
Southwestern Electric Power Company Electric 680
JEA Electric 667
Kentucky Utilities Electric 661
Austin Energy Electric 636
FPL Northwest FL Electric 625
Kentucky Power Electric 616
Entergy New Orleans Electric 581
Florida City Gas Company Natural Gas 784
Spire Mississippi Natural Gas 763
Piedmont Natural Gas Natural Gas 761
Atmos Energy – South Natural Gas 761
TECO Peoples Gas Natural Gas 760
Chattanooga Gas Company Natural Gas 756
CenterPoint Energy – South Natural Gas 744
Spire Alabama Natural Gas 742
Columbia Gas – South Natural Gas 733
Spire Gulf Coast Natural Gas 732
Oklahoma Natural Gas Natural Gas 729
Texas Gas Service Natural Gas 726
Dominion Energy North Carolina Natural Gas 711
Virginia Natural Gas Natural Gas 707


West Region Utilities Customer Engagement Performance
Utility brand name Service provided ECR score
Puget Sound Energy Combination 753
Avista Combination 717
NorthWestern Energy Combination 706
Colorado Springs Utilities Combination 674
Black Hills Energy – West Combination 672
Xcel Energy Colorado Combination 660
PG&E Combination 633
SDG&E Combination 554
Salt River Project Electric 752
SMUD Electric 745
Idaho Power Electric 736
Seattle City Light Electric 727
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Electric 715
Tucson Electric Power Electric 710
Portland General Electric Electric 703
APS Electric 702
Pacific Power Electric 690
NV Energy Electric 687
Southern California Edison Electric 686
Rocky Mountain Power Electric 656
PNM Electric 648
NW Natural Natural Gas 743
Intermountain Gas Company Natural Gas 730
Southwest Gas Natural Gas 723
Cascade Natural Gas Natural Gas 722
SoCalGas Natural Gas 719
New Mexico Gas Company Natural Gas 719
Dominion Energy – West Natural Gas 710

For more information on the full report, click the button below.


About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential

Escalent conducted surveys among 65,523 residential electric, natural gas and combination utility customers of the 141 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. Escalent will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request.

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