Market Strategies International


Utility Brand Trust Up Among Businesses, But Women-Owned Businesses Not So Quick to Trust

2016 Most Trusted Utility Business Partners Revealed

Cogent Reports names 14 electric utilities Most Trusted Business Partners as the industry posts its highest Brand Trust level ever among business customers—749 on a 1,000-point index. But these trust levels vary greatly by business customer segment. Of note, minority-owned businesses trust their utilities more (809) than do women-owned businesses (740), which score below the industry average. These results are contained in this year’s Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Commercial study by Cogent Reports™, the syndicated division of Market Strategies International.


“Overall, electric utilities are doing a fantastic job establishing trust among their business customers, which is a prerequisite to engaging these businesses in offerings and programs,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Market Strategies energy research division. “However, trust is tied to customer expectations, and not all business customers have the same expectations or trust levels for their utility.”

Brand Trust scores vary greatly among the many business customer types measured by the study. For example, technology companies score an average of 791 compared with only 740 for healthcare companies; while businesses in urban settings score 775 vs. 728 for suburban businesses and 704 for rural businesses. Additionally, utilities that assign an account manager to any type of business score an average of 762, while headquarters score 756 and satellite offices score 747; small businesses (100 or fewer employees) score 720, while their larger counterparts score 774.

“Understanding business customer segments is the first step to building trusted partnerships where businesses rely on the utility for advice and enhanced products and services,” continued Oberle. “About 84% of businesses with above-average trust use enhanced utility offerings or options, while only 33% of those with below-average trust take advantage of these services.”

The study measures Brand Trust through businesses’ ratings of their utility on six factors: Reliable Quality, Customer Focus, Communications Effectiveness, Community Support, Company Reputation and Advocacy. Of these factors, Community Support scores the lowest. There is a 200-point variance between the highest-scoring utility on Community Support and the lowest-scoring. So, active participation in local business organizations and economic development activities is also a key area for improvement among utilities.

Below is a list of the 14 utilities Cogent Reports has named the 2016 Most Trusted Business Partners. These utilities posted Brand Trust scores in the top quartile of the industry, and they exhibit best practices on establishing trusted relationships with business customers.

 Most Trusted Business Partners

 Brand Trust Index

 Alabama Power  774
 Ameren Illinois  793
 Dominion Virginia Power  791
 DTE Energy  783
 Florida Power & Light  792
 Georgia Power  792
 Idaho Power  797
 MidAmerican Energy  774
 National Grid  789
 NYSEG  837
 OG&E  789
 Pacific Power  792
 Salt River Project  789
 SWEPCO  789

Other utilities included in the study are listed below in alphabetical order.
Ameren Missouri
Appalachian Power
Consumers Energy
CPS Energy
Duke Energy Carolinas
Duke Energy Florida
Duke Energy Midwest
Duke Energy Progress
Eversource Energy
Gulf Power
Jersey Central Power & Light
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power
NorthWestern Energy
NV Energy
Ohio Edison
PECO Energy
Portland General Electric
PPL Electric Utilities
PSEG Long Island
Puget Sound Energy
Rocky Mountain Power
Southern California Edison
TECO Tampa Electric
We Energies
West Penn Power
Wisconsin Public Service
Xcel Energy—Midwest
Xcel Energy—South
Xcel Energy—West

About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement Study: Commercial

Cogent Reports conducted surveys among 9,540 commercial electric service utility customers of the 59 largest US-based utility companies (based on commercial customer counts). Businesses were eligible for the study if their bills were $100 or above. Utilities within the same region are given equal weight in order to balance the influence of each utility’s customers on survey results. Market Strategies will supply the exact wording of any survey questions upon request.

For more information, review an overview of the full report.

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