Energy industry struggles to gain customers’ trust

Posted on 4 Mar 2013

The UK’s energy industry is suffering from low levels of trust according to the 2013 annual Edelman Trust Barometer.

It is trusted by only 37% of those surveyed.

Exposing the gap between consumer expectations and energy industry performance, the Barometer highlights the opportunity to re-establish the relationship with consumers through a public engagement-based approach to communications.

Speaking about the key drivers of distrust in the industry, Laurence Evans, president international of Edelman Berland, explains: “Consumer trust in the energy industry is suffering from some fundamental challenges. Firstly, consumers keep seeing their bills rising while energy companies are perceived to be profiting excessively; added to this, billing structures appear complex, cumbersome and lack transparency; while finally companies struggle to gain reputational credits for ‘keeping the lights on’.”

According to the data, the energy industry continues to have a number of issues to deal with if it is to gain back consumer confidence.

Trust in the energy sector in the UK remains low at 37%, compared to a global average of 57%. The renewable sector enjoys more favourable statistics, with trust at 60%, in comparison to natural gas, utilities and oil at 47, 40 and 39 % respectively.

The source and the person discussing these issues is key: 36% of energy industry distrusters trust what they read in traditional media, against only 17% trusting owned media such as a company or brand website.

Rishi Bhattacharya, managing director of Energy and Industrials EMEA at Edelman, comments: “Rebuilding trust in the energy industry relies on participating in the public debate on issues that are important to consumers. This means taking into account not only which people are communicating on behalf of the business but also where and in what type of media they’re communicating.”