Utility Trusted Business Partners Prioritize Small Business Needs, Achieve Higher Engagement and Trust Scores

July 11, 2024

Escalent Recognizes 13 Utilities as 2024 Trusted Business Partners

Utilities that have focused on understanding and meeting the needs of small business customers are seeing significantly higher customer engagement. Today, we name these 13 top utilities as the 2024 Trusted Business Partners.

New data from Cogent Syndicated show that, after stabilizing from early 2022 through the first half of 2023, Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Business study index scores once again see significant year-over-year declines. 2024 Utility Trusted Business Partners, however, see significantly higher scores. Additionally, the Brand Trust gap between Trusted Business Partners and their peer utilities remains substantial, with Trusted Business Partners scoring 41 points higher.

Those are some of the latest findings of the 2024 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Business study, which tracks the performance of 78 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 data analytics and advisory firm with extensive energy, utility and brand experience.

Trusted Business Partners maintained higher levels of effective communication when the industry cut back on communications spend post-pandemic, and they have maintained this trend. Their Communications Intensity Index score, an indication of per-customer communication spending, is 18% higher than the industry average in the first half of 2024.

When it comes to communicating with business customers who report annual revenue of less than $1 million, the gap is even greater: The Trusted Business Partners Communications Intensity Index score for those smaller companies is 23% higher than the industry average.

“While large key accounts tend to receive consistent service over time from their account rep, small and midsized businesses rely much more on utility communication to understand available programs and other utility benefits,” said Suzanne Haggerty, director of syndicated research with the Energy team at Escalent. “Higher communications spending therefore translates into higher trust among these businesses.”

Businesses with annual revenue of less than $1 million are feeling the effects of inflation more than larger companies, with both local economic growth and business revenue growth expectations significantly lower than the industry average. Utility Brand Trust scores among those smaller businesses are 6% lower than the industry average, but Trusted Business Partners see scores that are 5% higher.

A greater percentage of small businesses are looking for utility programs that help them save money (52% cite savings as a priority vs. 37% industrywide), and Trusted Business Partners are doing an exceptional job of providing and promoting those opportunities. As a result, Utility Trusted Business Partners have seen significant improvements across the Product Benefits Awareness Index and Product Usage Index for businesses with annual revenue of less than $1 million, led by increased awareness of savings opportunities and improved ease-of-use and performance perceptions for consumption management services.

Trusted Business Partners are also doing a better job of providing a customer experience that better meets the needs of businesses of all sizes: their attribute scores for the perception that utility offerings improve customer service are 6% higher than the industry average for businesses of all sizes, including those lower-revenue customers.

“Designing savings-focused programs for small and midsized businesses—and making those programs easy to understand and use—can help lift scores across the study,” Haggerty said. “Additionally, by providing a customer journey for smaller business customers that goes beyond basic residential service channels, Trusted Business Partners have increased Customer Engagement and Brand Trust for a segment that often doesn’t feel its needs are being met by utilities.”

Escalent is pleased to name these 13 utilities as our 2024 Trusted Business Partners.

Cogent Syndicated 2024 Utility Trusted Business Partners*
AEP Ohio Los Angeles Department of Water & Power
Ameren Illinois Nicor Gas
CenterPoint Energy – South PSE&G
Con Edison Seattle City Light
Dominion Energy South Carolina SMUD
Georgia Power Xcel Energy – Midwest
Indiana Michigan Power

*Utilities named as Trusted Business Partners are selected based on having Brand Trust Index scores in the top decile of the industry, the top score within their respective benchmark segment, or a Brand Trust Index score within 20 points of the top benchmark segment score and above the industry average.

The following tables reflect regional peer benchmark Brand Trust scores among the 78 utilities surveyed. These scores reflect the level of trust business customers have with each utility.

East Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
Con Edison 812
PSE&G 799
BGE 786
National Grid 777
PECO Energy 769
Jersey Central Power & Light 766
West Penn Power 761
PSEG Long Island 750
Duquesne Light 750
PPL Electric Utilities 748
Penelec 739
Eversource Energy 739
Appalachian Power 687


Midwest Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
Ameren Illinois 796
AEP Ohio 784
Indiana Michigan Power 780
Xcel Energy – Midwest 778
Ameren Missouri 774
ComEd 767
Duke Energy Midwest 766
The Illuminating Company 764
OPPD 757
DTE Energy 756
MidAmerican Energy 753
AES Ohio 751
AES Indiana 745
We Energies 741
Evergy 733
Consumers Energy 726
Ohio Edison 714
Alliant Energy 707
Wisconsin Public Service 701


South Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
Georgia Power 826
Dominion Energy South Carolina 820
Florida Power & Light 803
Alabama Power 794
CPS Energy 792
TECO Tampa Electric 786
Mississippi Power 784
Louisville Gas & Electric 775
Duke Energy Carolinas 774
El Paso Electric 773
Southwestern Electric Power Company 771
Duke Energy Florida 768
Public Service Company of Oklahoma 763
Dominion Energy Virginia 762
Kentucky Utilities 749
JEA 749
FPL Northwest FL 749
OG&E 739
Duke Energy Progress 725
Entergy 714



West Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power 828
SMUD 821
Seattle City Light 817
Southern California Edison 797
Salt River Project 787
PG&E 780
Rocky Mountain Power 779
Puget Sound Energy 770
Pacific Power 766
Colorado Springs Utilities 753
PNM 743
APS 742
Portland General Electric 740
Idaho Power 735
NV Energy 733
NorthWestern Energy 725
Xcel Energy Colorado 722
SDG&E 531


Natural Gas Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
CenterPoint Energy – South 811
Nicor Gas 806
Virginia Natural Gas 781
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest 778
Chattanooga Gas Company 753

About the Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Business study

Escalent conducted surveys among 13,560 business electric and natural gas utility customers of the 78 largest US utility companies (based on customer counts). The sample design uses a combination of quotas and weighting based on size of businesses surveyed to ensure a balanced sample of each evaluated utility. Utilities within each benchmark segment are assigned equal weight to balance the influence of each utility’s customers on survey results. The Brand Trust Index score is a composite based upon consumer ratings across six factors. Escalent will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request.

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


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