Affirming or Aspirational for CARILEC Utilities

A June 23 2020 news story published by Business Wire broke the news of the record-breaking performance of 44 utilities as ranking among the 2020 Most Trusted Brands in the US post COVID 19. The 2020 study reported “a record high score of 696 (on a 1,000-point scale), and thus scoring highest on the Brand Trust Index (BTI) among the 140 utilities surveyed”. These and other related findings were extracted from the 2020 Cogent Syndicated Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential study from Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics firm.

The report cited the utility industry’s effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic as influencing this unprecedented Customer Trust ranking. According to the Business Wire story “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”.

For CARILEC Utilities, this ranking can translate as more affirming than aspirational, given the consistently high priority Caribbean utilities place on the BTI’s six categories of assessment namely – customer focus, community support, communications effectiveness, reliable quality, environmental dedication and reputation. With the region being highly prone to disasters, Caribbean electric utilities are in a perpetual state of crisis readiness to be able to provide both customer support and leadership in the national response efforts. Technical advice, standards, training and development and innovation constitute the core pillars of CARILEC’s Member Services. This will continue to situate the industry to lead in the area of customer trust and confidence in general, and in particular, during periods of crisis.

This conclusion is supported by the correlations drawn by Escalent and noted by Chris Oberle, senior vice president: “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.”

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