Customer trust in utilities hits all-time high

LIVONIA—Officials at the human behavior analytics firm Escalent announced that customer trust in utilities has hit a historic high due to the industry’s effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Escalent’s Cogent Syndicated Brand Trust Index posts a record high score of 696 (on a 1,000-point scale), with 44 utilities being named the 2020 Most Trusted Brands, having scored highest on the Brand Trust Index among the 140 utilities surveyed.

The Brand Trust Index is a composite score of utility performance on customer focus, community support, communications effectiveness, reliable quality, environmental dedication and reputation. Although customer trust in utilities had been increasing before the pandemic, the industry’s effective response to COVID-19 accelerated this trend. Customers rate the industry a very high 7.20 (on a 10-point scale) when asked how responsibly their utility responded to the COVID-19 crisis. The more responsive a utility was to COVID-19, the more trust customers place in them. And half of utility customers “strongly agree” their utility responded well to the pandemic.

“It is clear from our research the utility industry has done a fantastic job supporting customers through the pandemic. This has won utilities the trust and goodwill of their customers,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Escalent. “The utility industry is used to handling crises and quickly provided customer support. Awareness of utility COVID-19 efforts was supported by higher communications recall, the high quality of customer service interactions, and providing more value-added recommendations during service.”

Escalent would like to congratulate the 2020 Most Trusted Utility Brands that have supported their customers through an unprecedented crisis and have built goodwill and leadership in their communities.

Detroit-based DTE Energy scored a 713 on the 1,000-point scale, third best among 12 combination electric and gas utilities in the Midwest, while Jackson-based Consumers Energy scored 687, ninth on the list.

Escalent conducted surveys among 70,438 residential electric, natural gas and combination utility customers of the 140 largest US utility companies (based on residential customer counts). The sample design uses a combination of quotas and weighting based on US census data 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. Escalent will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request.

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