Utilities Increase Engagement with Consumers; 44 Named 2015 Customer Champions

Despite improvements, some customer segments continue to be

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In 2015, many of the nation’s 125 largest electric and natural gas
utilities made significant strides in strengthening bonds with
residential consumers compared with 2014. Along with the release of its 2015
Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential Study

which includes these results, Cogent
, a division of Market Strategies International, also named
44 Customer Champions, an elite group of utilities that achieved
top-tier Engaged Customer Relationship (ECR) scores based on feedback
from more than 52,000 residential ratepayers.

Details of the report show year-over-year industrywide gains across a
spectrum of 74 attributes related to Brand Trust, Operational
Satisfaction and Product Experience, the three core components that
comprise the overall ECR scores first introduced by Cogent Reports in
2014. However, the biggest gains in 2015 were related to the emotional
connection consumers feel with their utility—a key aspect of Brand
Trust—satisfaction with safety and reliability, and improved ratings for
education efforts to promote the benefits of utility value-added

In the wake of the industry’s current mergers, mandates and new market
entrants, Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Market Strategies notes
that improved customer engagement performance bodes well for all
stakeholders and believes the current momentum will continue.

“These results prove that the industry is in transition and is becoming
more engaged with its customers on important topics and forming stronger
relationships with them,” said Oberle. “This is proof the industry sees
value in and is getting focused on building real franchise value beyond
its pipes and wires presence.”

According to Cogent, an area where there is room for improvement is
better targeting by utilities to increase engagement with specific
customer segments on the offerings, products and options they have
developed. This is a reflection of the fact that along with the
obligation to serve defined geographies, comes an industry challenge to
build relationships with a very diverse customer base.

“We have found that customer ratings on brand, product and satisfaction
vary greatly by customer type. Utilities that have successfully targeted
customer segments based upon their product offering needs have much
higher customer engagement scoring,” Oberle added. “In addition, some
utilities lag on serving diverse customer bases. For instance, among 23
utilities that were top performers on engaging Hispanic customers, only
three come from border states. Top performers in the future will be
utilities that have built a successful customer management strategy.”

About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement Study: Residential

Cogent Reports conducted surveys among 52,007 residential electric,
natural gas and combination utility customers of the 125 largest US
utility companies (based on residential customer counts). The sample
design uses US census data and strict quotas 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.
Market Strategies will supply the exact wording of any survey question
upon request.

About Market Strategies International

Strategies International
is a market research consultancy with deep
expertise in consumer/retail, energy, financial services, healthcare,
technology and telecommunications. The firm is ISO 20252 certified,
reflecting its commitment to providing intelligent research, designed to
the highest levels of accuracy, with meaningful results that help
companies make confident business decisions. Market Strategies conducts
qualitative and quantitative research in 75 countries, and its
specialties include brand, communications, CX, product development,
segmentation and syndicated. Its syndicated products, known as Cogent
Reports, help clients understand the market environment, explore
industry trends and monitor their brand and products within the
competitive landscape. Founded in 1989, Market Strategies is one of the
largest market research firms in the world, with offices in the US,
Canada and China. Read Market Strategies’ blog at FreshMR,
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Market Strategies International
Anne Denz, 617.715.7611