Utility Efforts to Improve Ease of Doing Business Grapple With Energy Pricing Headwinds

April 11, 2024

Escalent recognizes 30 utilities as Easiest To Do Business With

A new Cogent Syndicated report from Escalent reveals that utilities continue to struggle to make it easy for their customers to do business with them, as reflected in the study’s Customer Effort Score plummeting by 11 points year over year to the new historic low of 713 (on a 1,000-point scale).

The Customer Effort Score peaked in Q4 of 2020, after COVID-19 restrictions forced utility customers to begin using digital service channels, which in turn prompted many utilities to quickly improve those services. Peak Customer Effort Scores were led by utilities perceived by their customers to be leaders in industry innovation and technology.

Since then, energy pricing headwinds and general economic anxiety have made it more difficult for utilities to help customers understand their bills, find answers to bill-related questions, and identify relevant and useful programs and services to help lower energy consumption. These struggles have led to a 28-point decline in the industry Customer Effort Score since its peak in 2020.

Despite this trending decline, 30 utilities stand out as being the “easiest to do business with” among 141 of the largest utility companies in the US. These and other findings are from the 2024 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential study by Escalent, a top data analytics and advisory firm with extensive energy, utility and brand experience.

This year, the industry’s low Customer Effort Score trend is driven by the lack of easy-to-use utility programs, including alternative energy options such as rooftop solar or electric vehicle charging at home, consumption management services such as energy-efficiency rebates and incentives, energy management tools and non-standard rate options.

Ease-of-resolution scored across customer service channels also have declined, with the interactive voice response (IVR) system seeing the largest drop. Calls related to reporting issues with customer accounts or seeking information about bill amounts or payment information correlate with the lowest ease-of-resolution scores for the IVR.

In contrast, the 30 utilities Escalent recognizes today as Easiest To Do Business With are consistently making it easier for customers to find information on and use relevant programs as well as solve issues across service channels with minimal effort, outscoring the industry as a whole by 4% to 7% across Customer Effort Score attributes.

On the other hand, these utilities are not immune to Customer Effort Score declines, losing an average of seven points as opposed to the industry’s 11-point loss, which highlights the increasingly difficult landscape for utilities trying to improve the customer journey. Despite this, the 2024 Easiest To Do Business With utilities have facilitated more seamless transactions for and interactions with their customers.

“Utilities continue encountering obstacles in their efforts to facilitate smooth processes for their customers. Only 13 of the 30 highest-scoring utilities saw year-over-year improvement in Customer Effort Scores, which indicates that even the most forward-thinking, innovative utilities must work harder to meet customer expectations,” said Suzanne Haggerty, director of syndicated research with the Energy team at Escalent. “Utilities that want to make themselves easy to do business with will have to sharpen their focus on simplifying bills, anticipating customer service needs, offering proactive, helpful communications, and ensuring that programs are easy to use and perform as promised.”

Natural gas companies make up slightly more than half of the 2024 lineup. Historically, natural gas companies have seen higher scores throughout the study’s factors and attributes due to natural gas bills being lower than electricity bills and natural gas being more of a quality-of-life fuel used for fireplaces, cooking and other such home amenities that have more of an emotional connection to consumers. During 2023, natural gas companies saw scoring losses that were on par with those of electric and combo companies, but their initial scoring lead gave them an outsized advantage over other service types.

Over the last couple of years, electric and combo companies have seen worse performance related to inflationary and price pressures. Natural gas customers report 9% higher monthly bill manageability perceptions and 11% higher perception that their utility offers reasonable rates.

Escalent is pleased to name these 30 utilities as our 2024 Easiest To Do Business With.

2024 Easiest Utilities To Do Business With*


Effort Score


Effort Score

Ameren Missouri


Indiana Michigan Power




Intermountain Gas Company




New Jersey Natural Gas


Cascade Natural Gas


NW Natural


CenterPoint Energy–South


Philadelphia Gas Works


Chattanooga Gas Company

767 Piedmont Natural Gas 761

Columbia Gas—South




Columbia Gas of Ohio 767 Puget Sound Energy



721 Salt River Project


Con Edison 720 SMUD


Dominion Energy South Carolina

755 Spire Gulf Coast 758
Elizabethtown Gas 733 Spire Mississippi


Florida City Gas Company

785 TECO Peoples Gas 780
Georgia Power 775 Washington Gas


Green Mountain Power

720 Xcel Energy—Midwest


*Utilities designated as Easiest To Do Business With are selected based on having Customer Effort Scores in the top decile of the industry, having the top score within their respective benchmark segment, or being within 20 points of the top benchmark segment score and above the industry average.

About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential

Escalent conducted surveys among 62,898 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 the button below.

Show Me More

Keep me informed. I’d like to receive occasional newsletters, event notifications, and thought leadership materials.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter