Leading Utilities Increase Customer Engagement Through Communication Despite Inflation

December 14, 2022

Escalent Names 37 Utilities as 2022 Customer Champions

A new Cogent Syndicated report from Escalent finds that despite rising energy costs, some stand-out utilities have scored well above their industry peers for building engaged customer relationships. As the impact of higher energy prices reverberates through the industry, overall perceptions that utilities are offering reasonable rates for the service they provide are declining, leading to an overall decline in customer engagement with utilities. Bucking this trend, leading utilities that have communicated with customers to help them find support in managing their energy use are building engaged customer relationships. Today, we name those 37 utilities as Escalent’s 2022 Customer Champions.

These findings are from the 2022 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 and utility experience.

The study also found that for the first time since 2018, more than half (53%) of residential customers are paying $100–$500 per month on their utility bill. Perhaps most significantly, this year marks the lowest percentage of customers (32%) who are paying less than $100 per month on their bill. Despite higher energy costs impacting customer bills, utilities have significantly decreased the level of their customer communication. Residential customers recall fewer overall communications from their utility this year and are less likely than last year to say that messaging about how they can lower their energy consumption is accurate and easy to understand.

However, in the face of these overall industry declines, the 2022 Customer Champion utilities are focused on clear communications about customer programs and are helping their customers find offerings that meet needs around managing bills. Also, unlike the industry as a whole, these utilities are sharing messaging around how to lower energy consumption that maintains a high degree of perceived accuracy and clarity.

“Customers buffeted by inflation and economic anxiety are looking for solutions to manage their energy spending,” said K.C. Boyce, vice president at Escalent. “While many utilities have approached rising energy prices by trying to explain why prices have increased, it’s clear that the utilities that have successfully navigated these challenges have instead focused on providing energy-efficiency, rate and billing programs that give customers more control over their budgets.”

Escalent is pleased to name these 37 utilities as our 2022 Customer Champions.

Escalent 2022 Customer Champions
Ameren Missouri Dominion Energy South Carolina Philadelphia Gas Works
Atmos Energy – Midwest Elizabethtown Gas Piedmont Natural Gas
Atmos Energy – South Florida City Gas Company PPL Electric Utilities
BGE Florida Power & Light Puget Sound Energy
Black Hills Energy – Midwest Georgia Power Salt River Project
Cascade Natural Gas Green Mountain Power SMUD
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest Idaho Power SoCalGas
Chattanooga Gas Company Mississippi Power TECO Peoples Gas
Columbia Gas – East Montana-Dakota Utilities TECO Tampa Electric
Columbia Gas – South New Jersey Natural Gas Washington Gas
Columbia Gas of Ohio OUC Wisconsin Public Service
Delmarva Power Pepco

 * 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.


EAST REGION: Customer Engagement Benchmark Performance

Utility brand name Utility type ECR score
BGE Combination 755
Delmarva Power Combination 755
PECO Combination 738
PSE&G Combination 731
Con Edison Combination 709
National Grid Combination 707
RG&E Combination 691
Eversource Combination 674
NYSEG Combination 674
PPL Electric Utilities Electric 741
Pepco Electric 728
Green Mountain Power Electric 721
West Penn Power Electric 706
Penelec Electric 704
Duquesne Light Company Electric 701
Penn Power Electric 701
Met-Ed Electric 694
Atlantic City Electric Electric 693
Mon Power Electric 688
Potomac Edison Electric 687
Appalachian Power Electric 684
Jersey Central Power & Light Electric 679
PSEG Long Island Electric 663
Central Maine Power Electric 599
New Jersey Natural Gas Natural gas 750
Washington Gas Natural gas 747
Philadelphia Gas Works Natural gas 747
Elizabethtown Gas Natural gas 740
Columbia Gas – East Natural gas 737
South Jersey Gas Company Natural gas 726
UGI Utilities Natural gas 716
Peoples Natural gas 709
National Fuel Gas Natural gas 697


MIDWEST REGION: Customer Engagement Benchmark Performance

Utility brand name Utility Type ECR score
Black Hills Energy – Midwest Combination 761
Wisconsin Public Service Combination 751
Montana-Dakota Utilities Combination 747
DTE Energy Combination 736
Xcel Energy – Midwest Combination 734
Ameren Illinois Combination 727
MidAmerican Energy Combination 723
Consumers Energy Combination 721
We Energies Combination 715
NIPSCO Combination 708
Alliant Energy Combination 699
Duke Energy Midwest Combination 679
CenterPoint Energy – Indiana Combination 564
Ameren Missouri Electric 731
ComEd Electric 721
AEP Ohio Electric 714
OPPD Electric 708
Ohio Edison Electric 706
Indiana Michigan Power Electric 702
Toledo Edison Electric 696
Evergy Electric 695
The Illuminating Company Electric 694
AES Ohio Electric 671
AES Indiana Electric 657
Columbia Gas of Ohio Natural gas 754
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest Natural gas 742
Atmos Energy – Midwest Natural gas 737
Peoples Gas Natural gas 731
Nicor Gas Natural gas 723
Dominion Energy Ohio Natural gas 723
Spire Missouri – East Natural gas 721
Spire Missouri – West Natural gas 719
Citizens Energy Natural gas 716
Kansas Gas Service Natural gas 715


SOUTH REGION: Customer Engagement Benchmark Performance 

Utility brand name Utility type ECR score
Dominion Energy South Carolina Combination 720
CPS Energy Combination 682
Louisville Gas & Electric Combination 676
MLGW Combination 673
OUC Electric 762
Georgia Power Electric 756
Mississippi Power Electric 749
TECO Tampa Electric Electric 745
Florida Power & Light Electric 745
Entergy Mississippi Electric 738
Public Service Company of Oklahoma Electric 733
Entergy Arkansas Electric 733
Alabama Power Electric 729
Nashville Electric Service Electric 728
Kentucky Utilities Electric 724
Duke Energy Progress Electric 721
Duke Energy Carolinas Electric 720
Dominion Energy Virginia Electric 712
Southwestern Electric Power Company Electric 706
Duke Energy Florida Electric 705
Xcel Energy – South Electric 705
OG&E Electric 700
Entergy Texas Electric 699
Austin Energy Electric 693
El Paso Electric Electric 692
JEA Electric 691
Entergy Louisiana Electric 669
Kentucky Power Electric 639
FPL Northwest FL Electric 622
Entergy New Orleans Electric 603
TECO Peoples Gas Natural gas 782
Columbia Gas – South Natural gas 780
Piedmont Natural Gas Natural gas 771
Florida City Gas Company Natural gas 768
Chattanooga Gas Company Natural gas 767
Atmos Energy – South Natural gas 761
CenterPoint Energy – South Natural gas 753
Texas Gas Service Natural gas 744
Spire Alabama Natural gas 743
Virginia Natural Gas Natural gas 739
Oklahoma Natural Gas Natural gas 731
Dominion Energy North Carolina Natural gas 730
Spire Gulf Coast Natural gas 697
Spire Mississippi Natural gas 684


WEST REGION: Customer Engagement Benchmark Performance

Utility brand name Utility type ECR score
Puget Sound Energy Combination 748
NorthWestern Energy Combination 715
Xcel Energy Colorado Combination 713
Avista Combination 708
Colorado Springs Utilities Combination 687
Black Hills Energy – West Combination 683
SDG&E Combination 658
PG&E Combination 658
Idaho Power Electric 756
Salt River Project Electric 754
SMUD Electric 742
NV Energy Electric 734
Seattle City Light Electric 729
Portland General Electric Electric 720
Rocky Mountain Power Electric 717
Tucson Electric Power Electric 708
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Electric 703
Pacific Power Electric 701
APS Electric 700
Southern California Edison Electric 694
PNM Electric 682
Cascade Natural Gas Natural gas 774
SoCalGas Natural gas 756
NW Natural Natural gas 744
Intermountain Gas Company Natural gas 739
Dominion Energy – West Natural gas 734
Southwest Gas Natural gas 714
New Mexico Gas Company Natural gas 711

About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential

Escalent conducted surveys among 78,905 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.

For more information on the full report, click below.

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