54% of business customers are highly engaged with their electric and natural gas utilities, driving the industry’s Engaged Customer Relationship (ECR) Index to an all-time high of 786 (on a 1000-point maximum scale) for 2021. Escalent’s ECR Index is a comprehensive customer relationship measurement used by utility management to assess customer engagement. Among business customers, utilities now tie with other premier business service providers, such as primary banks, Google and Amazon, for having the most engaged relationships. This information is from the Cogent Syndicated 2021 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement: Business study by top human behavior and analytics advisory firm Escalent.
Businesses elevated their engagement during the pandemic as they relied on utilities to support their local economies and customers. Utility outreach to local communities is leading to a spike in brand strength, as 58% of business customers say they are highly loyal to their utility. This growth in loyalty is providing a positive impact on utility profits, as half of businesses prefer to use their utility for consumption management and expanded energy-related offerings. In fact, 67% of businesses use a utility offering beyond basic service enhancements.
Despite this strong performance, the study finds that utilities still have to sharpen their focus on customer engagement, as most businesses say they are open to offers from other energy providers. One threat is that 30% of business customers are open to using a third party for alternative energy, such as community or rooftop solar.
“Since 91% of businesses are satisfied with utility service, management teams are now building value by expanding their goals to engaging customers across all touchpoints,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president, Escalent. “Greater outreach, innovative offerings and brand trust have led businesses to engage with their utility and they want to engage even more deeply. But businesses have also made it clear that if utilities don’t provide the value they seek beyond basic service, they will move to other providers who do.”
Escalent congratulates the 2021 Business Customer Champion utilities listed below, whose customer engagement positions them as best-in-class providers. Their customers value the relationship they have forged with them and are looking to further engage with them as trusted energy advisers.