Only 52% of Energy Customers Satisfied with Customer Service
on: September 25, 2009, 4:13 am
A year of price cuts has seen
the energy industry improve its image in the eyes of consumers,
according to the latest independent Customer Satisfaction Report
published today by uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching
service. 65% of energy customers are satisfied with their supplier
- a 6% increase on last year when suppliers' popularity suffered
because of eye watering price hikes totalling 42% or £381.
However, while overall satisfaction
levels have improved, there are still some key areas for concern,
including customer service which remains a thorny issue with consumers.
In fact, little over half of energy customers (52%) are satisfied
with their supplier's customer service and, tellingly, only 45%
of people would recommend their supplier to somebody else. Despite
price cuts averaging out at 4% or £54 in total this year, only
51% of customers think their supplier is giving them value for
money. Although a 6% improvement on last year, it is still 5%
lower than in 2007 when suppliers last cut prices.
Suppliers are engaged in an online
price war, bringing out increasingly competitive new plans. But
consumers are sceptical about whether their supplier has their
best interests at heart. Only 40% of customers are satisfied that
their supplier has them on their best deal.
The report, based on responses
from over 5,000 energy customers in the UK, suggest that suppliers
are gradually getting back on track, with satisfaction levels
almost as high as those of October 2007, another price cut year.
However, there are clear differences between the big six suppliers.
While Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) satisfies almost three
quarters (73%) of its customers, poorest performer npower only
npower has been rated bottom for
satisfaction by consumers for the second year running, but despite
this has still seen an 8% improvement on last year. British Gas,
which previously held the bottom slot (in 2007), has seen an 11%
improvement in customer satisfaction this time.
Ann Robinson, Consumer Policy
Director at uSwitch.com, says: "Last year's hefty price increases
damaged the public's perception of energy
suppliers. As a result, the industry saw a noticeable drop
in satisfaction levels. This year, suppliers are starting to get
back on track, winning customers over by cutting prices and bringing
out increasingly competitive new plans. But if they are to make
a real dent they have to focus on customer service - just 52%
of people are happy with customer service, which is poor by any
"With such clear differences between
suppliers there is no excuse for consumers putting up with bad
service. If you are not happy that you are on the best deal or
getting value for money - speak to your supplier. Only around
1.3 million or 5% of households are on online energy plans and
paying the cheapest energy prices in the
market - consumers can do something about this. If you are still
unhappy with the service you are getting, then it's time to look
around for a new supplier. There's some good news here. Not only
could you save up to £425 on your energy bill, but switching is
also the one thing that suppliers consistently do well. Almost
three quarters of customers (74%) are satisfied with this part
of suppliers' service."
Julie Jaglowski, npower residential
customer service director, says: "We are very pleased to see
the improvement in our scores from last year and recognise that
often the improvements we have made take time to come through
in terms of overall customer experience. The investments we have
made in systems and additional people are having an impact and
we expect to see our performance continue to improve in the future."
Customer Satisfaction Report
Scottish and Southern Energy remains the customer service
benchmark for the rest of the industry. It has now been voted
best supplier for the sixth consecutive time. However it has seen
a drop in the number of categories it has won. Weakest areas are
meter and online services.
Tony Keeling, Director of Customer
Services at Scottish and Southern Energy, says: "We are delighted
to be voted top for customer service in the energy industry and
it is now widely recognised that Scottish and Southern Energy
sets the energy industry standard. What we aim to do now is achieve
the standard of customer service set by those companies who are
not in the energy industry, but are recognised as being best for
British Gas has improved its satisfaction rating for the
second year in a row. In October 2007 it was voted bottom of the
big six, moving up to 5th last year and now 4th place this year.
Customer satisfaction has increased by 11% this year taking it
to 66% of customers satisfied - its highest ever score. Importantly
it has started to reap dividends for making customer service more
of a focus: it is the second most likely supplier to be recommended,
it is rated 3rd for value for money and takes the top slot for
offering its customers the best deal. It takes one other top slot
for metering services, but its overall performance this year puts
it in a strong position to creep further up the rankings in 2010.
Phil Bentley, Managing Director
of British Gas, says: "For the second year running, British Gas
is moving up this league table - and this year we got our best
score yet. This shows British Gas is changing and our customers
are feeling the benefits of the improvements we've made and are
happy to recommend us to others.
"This year we have made the
biggest price cuts and offered the best electricity prices on
average across the country, so it's no surprise we've been voted
top for offering the best deals. But, we're not complacent. We
have many more improvements in the pipeline, and next year we
hope to take the top spot in even more categories."
E.ON - previously a strong contender for best supplier
- slipped down in the customer satisfaction rankings last year.
This year however it has fought back, moving back into 2nd place
and satisfying 67% of customers. Areas of strength are its slick
transfer process where it came first out of all the providers,
its reward scheme which gives customers Tesco Clubcard points,
meter services and value for money. Interestingly though, its
weakest area is customer service where only 52% of customers are
satisfied, putting it in 4th place.
David Bird, Customer Service
Director of E.ON's retail business, says: "We are very pleased
to have improved our position with regard to overall customer
satisfaction and welcome this feedback, which gives us an insight
into E.ON's customers' views of our products and services. We
realise there are still changes we can make for the better and
are working hard to improve the service we provide to our customers,
while offering good value for money."
ScottishPower has slipped down the league to be rated 5th
out of the big six suppliers for overall satisfaction. While its
score of 63% is broadly in line with its score in 2006, at that
time it was enough to secure it 2nd place, while today it languishes
in 5th place. Areas of concern highlighted by the research are
likeliness to be recommended, value for money, customer service
and reward schemes.
Neil Clitheroe, Customer Services
Director at ScottishPower, says: "We continually speak to our
customers and use their feedback to help us make improvements
across all areas. Overall, we have improved on last year and remain
the leading online provider for the 5th survey in a row. We're
also the only supplier to actively encourage our existing customers
to make sure they are on our best deal and, to date, almost 500,000
have taken our Savings Challenge, saving themselves up to £325
in the process."
EDF Energy made big improvements in 2008, which it has
managed to maintain this year. Despite slipping down from 2nd
to 3rd place it has actually increased its satisfaction level
from 63% to 67%. This year it won the award for best reward scheme.
Other strong areas are customer service and energy efficiency.
Weakest areas are metering and billing services, value for money
and not offering customers the best deal.
Steve Hayfield, Director, Customer
Services at EDF Energy, says: "EDF Energy is committed to delivering
the highest levels of service to our customers. I am pleased that
all the hard work and endeavour from all of our staff over the
last year has led to our overall customer satisfaction levels
increasing. The report also shows that we have made a significant
improvement in our customer service performance, which primarily
reflects the dedication of our staff. We know we must work even
harder to meet our customer's changing expectations and are determined
to continue developing new ways to improve our service.
"We are particularly delighted
to have won awards for the categories 'best reward scheme' and
'energy efficiency'. Our 'Read, Reduce, Reward' scheme which rewards
customers with Nectar points has proved very popular with over
650,000 customers signed up. EDF Energy strongly believes that
helping people use energy more efficiently is the most effective
way to provide long-term support and we have demonstrated this
consistently though our actions. We are committed to working with
and helping our customers to reduce their bills and their impact
upon the environment, which is why we also launched Team Energy,
part of Team Green Britain, earlier this year."
more information please contact: Jo Ganly 0207 802
2915 / firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.uswitch.com/
uSwitch: uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and
telephone-based comparison and switching service, helping consumers
compare prices on gas, electricity, water, heating cover, home
telephone, broadband, digital television, mobile phones, personal
finance products and car insurance.