Citing concerns over quality and outreach, customer trust in water utilities lags trust in electric and natural gas utilities. Consumers are satisfied with neither the healthfulness and taste of their tap water nor utility outreach, especially communications on conservation and community support. The result is that water utility Customer Trust scores a low 698 (on a 1,000-point scale) compared with other household service providers. These findings are part of the Cogent Syndicated 2021 Water Utility Customer Trust and Satisfaction Benchmark report from Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm.
The report also highlights some positives for water utilities. Although still lower compared with other utilities, water utilities’ Customer Trust scoring has increased 13 points from last year (685). Water utility customers are highly satisfied with bill amounts, the billing process, customer service, water clarity and utility dedication to improving quality. And while only 61% of customers recall any communication from their water utility, those customers rate their utility 84 points higher on customer trust, indicating an improvement opportunity for these companies.
“Much of the nation is fighting drought and will soon be developing infrastructure plans so now is a great time for water utilities to pivot from basic satisfaction with service to putting the evolving needs of their customers and communities first,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Escalent. “Without customer trust, water utilities will have difficulty influencing consumers to use tap water or change their water consumption behaviors. Water utilities need to become more interactive to prove they are dedicated to water quality, the environment and the communities they serve.”
Other key findings of the report include:
Escalent would like to congratulate these water utilities for being a 2021 Most Trusted Water Utility Brand for having the highest levels of customer trust nationally among their peers.
|Water Utility||Customer Trust Index|
|Central Arkansas Water||762|
|Newport News Waterworks||761|
|Baton Rouge Water Company||755|
|Orange County Utilities||754|
|NYC Department of Environmental Protection||747|
|Atlanta Watershed Management||744|
|Seattle Public Utilities||742|
|Honolulu Board of Water Supply||741|
Escalent conducted surveys among 69,808 residential water utility customers nationwide from Q3 2020 to Q2 2021. The sample design uses a combination of quotas and weighting based on US census data by zip code to ensure a demographically balanced sample based on age, gender, income, race and ethnicity. The Customer Trust score is based upon a consumer company trust rating (0–10 scale) that is converted to a 1,000-point scale to allow benchmark comparisons.
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