Georgia Power topped a nationwide study of utilities focused on the most trusted brands among business customers.
The Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International placed Southern Co. unit Georgia Power at No. 1 with a brand trust index of 795, two points ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. The study’s scores are on a maximum scale of 1,000 points and analyzed more than 50 consumption, environmental, service, digital and rate offerings.
Most trusted brand utilities have a higher use rate for these services, according to the study. MidAmerican Energy, the Iowa-based utility which often tops its regional sector in J.D. Power customer surveys, was ranked third with 784 points.
Con Edison, Idaho Power, Alabama Power, Pacific Power, Florida Power & Light, Puget Sound Energy and Southwestern Electric Power Co. rounded out the top 10 in that order. Ameren Illinois, Entergy, Public Service Electric & Gas, Southern California Edison and Kansas City Power & Light also were in the top 15.
“Brand Trust is essential to the utility industry’s ability to build effective innovation, energy management and environmental programs. Utilities that are perceived as trusted business partners are already more successful at gaining customer support for these programs,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Market Strategies.
The Cogent study is in its third year. Most of the scores this year were above the 700 point benchmarket, but three utilities—AEP Ohio, Eversource and PNM (Public Service Co. of New Mexico)—each rated below that at 690, 684 and 659, respectively.
More than 10,000 utility business customers were factored into the study. The index was based on 35 rating questions, from customer focus to reliability, communications and community support, among other things.
Numerous industry experts, including those who have talked at the annual DistribuTECH conference and in the pages of POWERGRID International magazine, have pointed out the challenges facing utilities. They can find new business opportunities but must improve customer interaction through multiple online and smartphone channels and find ways to meet tailor programs to unique choices such as distributed energy resources and time of use rates, among others, the experts say.
“With so much industry product development being conducted on environmental issues, distributed resources, energy consumption and alternative rates, the time is now to build and maintain strong brand trust levels among business customers,” Oberle said in the Cogent report release.