Relationships between utilities and their customers are heavily dependent on strong relationships. Brand trust is critical for strengthening these relationships is the message from Cogent Reports in their 2014 Utility Trust Brand & Customer Engagement study.
According to the report, which measures customer engagement with electric and natural gas utilities, there is a significant monetary value that can be linked directly to trust.
The study, which is based on a survey of 19,000 residential utility customers across 125 of the largest natural gas, electric and combination utilities in the United States provides a holistic view of the complex relationship consumers have with their utility providers.
Included in the report is a list of 52 utilities categorized as most trusted brands in each of 12 regional and industry segments. Florida Power & Light is the nation’s most trusted electric utility and receives the highest overall brand trust score (724 points out of a possible 1,000 points) of any utility. Oklahoma Natural Gas ranks first in trust among gas utilities nationally, while MidAmerican is the most trusted combination utility provider. Overall performance and tier structure vary by region and type of utility, with all companies named achieving a minimum threshold score of 650.
“By earning the trust of their customers, these companies are creating financial value in their brands,” said Chris Oberle, a senior vice president for Market Strategies and the lead author of the report. “While about 4 in 10 utilities in our survey are designated as Most Trusted Utility Brands, an even more select group of just 15 manage to achieve brand trust scores of at least 700 out of a possible score of 1,000.”
In a hypothetical utility switching exercise, the report showed that greater incentives would be required to induce a change among customers of utilities with high trust. “Based on these findings, we estimate the current goodwill value for scoring high on trust to be over $8 billion. This shows a significant financial benefit for the industry to focus on raising trust levels,” said Oberle.