E Source, in partnership with The Nielsen Company, has published its second national Utility Brand Strength Study based on a broad survey of U.S. residential customers. The 10 utilities that received the highest rankings, in the order of their blended brand scores, are:
- Salt River Project
- Colorado Springs Utilities
- Omaha Public Power District
- Idaho Power
- MidAmerican Energy
- Indianapolis Power & Light
- Louisville Gas and Electric
- CPS Energy
- Central Maine Power
- South Carolina Electric & Gas
E Source examined nine different attributes of brand strength and value and developed utility ratings for each. The company also constructed an overall blended brand rating out of the average of the nine individual attribute scores. Using the average ratings, E Source ranked 84 investor-owned and public utilities from across the U.S. (cooperatives were not included in the rankings). The brand attributes included price-to-value ratio, communication effectiveness, program offerings, environmental friendliness, and customer service.
Overall, utilities received the highest ratings from their customers for reliability, followed by customer service and community involvement, respectively. Utilities received the lowest scores for customer loyalty to utility, price-to-value ratio, and communications effectiveness. “A utility’s brand value can be improved or degraded based on actions by both the utility and its communications. Having strong and consistent messaging is a key asset for those utilities with high brand scores,” concludes Matthew Burks, senior product manager for E Source Customer Experience Services.
E Source analysis identified certain factors that drive brand value to a high extent. Some of those factors can be controlled by the utility, whereas others are simply part of the demographic makeup of a utility’s customers. E Source found that customers who participate in energy-efficiency programs, warranty options, or premium renewable energy programs, give their utilities higher scores on brand value. People who opt into customer services such as auto pay, budget billing, and web payment also rate their utilities higher. According to Burks, “Our analysis shows that a utility’s brand strength can be enhanced by engaging more customers in service options that are simple to use and give them control and choice.”
E Source discovered that adults over the age of 55 gave much higher brand scores than did their younger counterparts—an example of a driver that’s primarily demographic in nature. “Younger consumers have a different set of expectations from all of their service providers, including their electric utility. Utilities are just starting to identify this new generation of customers and provide a customized experience that’s appropriate for their age group,” says Burks.
For 25 years, E Source has been providing unbiased, objective research and advisory services to over 300 utilities and large energy users. Our energy experts have answered more than 8,000 questions over the past 3 years. This guidance helps our customers advance their efficiency programs, enhance customer relationships, and use energy more efficiently.
Wendy Bloechle, Vice President of Marketing and Customer Service, E Source
E-mail Wendy Bloechle