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Thirty-three utilities have been named 2018 Customer Champions.

The honour is an annual award given to gas, electric and combination utilities that exhibit exceptional performance in brand trust, service satisfaction and product experience.

These three categories compose the Engaged Customer Relationship (ECR) index, which provides a holistic measurement of the entire utility customer experience. This year’s customer champions rate an average of 41 points higher than industry peers.

Overall, this year’s results are marked by a decline in ECR scoring by 15 points to 713 (on a 1,000-point scale), primarily due to a 27-point decline in the product experience index.

Customer Champions were able to mitigate this decline with high levels of brand trust.

Customer expectations for value-added programmes are increasing rapidly and compared with 2017, utility customers are less likely to view their utility’s product and service offerings as beneficial.

Additionally, despite efforts by utilities to expand consumption management programmes, customer perception has declined for some of the most important benefits, such as “lowering utility costs” and “helping customers become more energy-conscious.”

“The industry-wide decline in product experience highlights the need for consumer education on value-added offerings as utilities seek to replace declining revenues from traditional operations,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Market Strategies International-Morpace. “Customer Champion utilities are the most trusted providers that can appeal to customers with offerings they understand and value.”

Congratulations to the 33 Customer Champions that have established strong connections with their customers and are poised to deliver more of what customers and regulators expect from a 21st century utility.

A full list of champions and other findings can be found in 2018 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement: Residential, a Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International-Morpace.