Customers more likely to discourage energy and telco brands than recommend them

Stat attack
Neil Davey
Managing editor
MyCustomer.com
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Fed up with your telecoms provider or your energy supplier? You're not alone. New research reveals that telecoms and energy are the only two UK sectors where consumers are more likely to actively discourage friends and family from using most major providers, than recommend them.

A poll of over 2,000 adults by EY-Seren tested the consumer opinions of the best and worst brands for customer service rated by Which?, across a variety of sectors including technology, retail, travel, insurance and banking. The findings for every sector showed more customers would recommend the brands they use in the majority of cases - except for telecoms and energy.

Out of the eight telecoms and energy providers tested, only one (EE) had more respondents saying they would recommend the brand, than actively discourage peers from using it.

For the rest, respondents more likely to discourage their friends and family from the brand. Results for individual brands ranged from just 1% more who would discourage their friends and family (Eon and EDF Energy), to 15% more (TalkTalk). The research found that the decision whether to recommend or discourage a brand was most greatly influenced by issues related to overall customer experience, rather than the quality of the product or service itself. 

When asked to rate factors on a scale of one to seven, reliability (83%), value for money (82%) and great customer service tied with trust (79%) were the top three factors rated as five or more. This compared to 77% who rated a better product or service as five or more.

Telco CX

“It’s clear that major telecoms and energy providers are failing to deliver the experience customers want. This could be anything from bad websites to annoying customer call centres, or just not being able to complete tasks quickly and simply,” said Ben Rubin, development director at EY-Seren, a design and innovation consultancy specialising in customer experience.

“These industries have managed to cling on to customers because of the relatively high barriers to entry for smaller, more customer focused competitors, and also the level of hassle required for customers who want to switch. However, it is starting to change and emerging companies who can deliver what customers want, in the same way that Uber did for taxis, and Airbnb did for hotels, are starting to win market share from established companies.”

The research findings were far more favourable in other sectors, however, with retail particularly standing out. 

10 times more respondents said they would recommend both Amazon and Marks & Spencer than actively discourage others from the brand (Amazon: 63% recommend, 6% actively discourage / M&S: 51% recommend, 5% actively discourage). 16 times more respondents would recommend John Lewis (48% compared to 3%).  

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07th Oct 2016 12:05

Thanks Neil, very topical both industry verticals feel very arrogant towards their customers from recent personal experiences. A further worrying trend from the big 6 energy providers is the big discounts for new customers not available to existing customers. Is this a strategy to further squeeze out the smaller providers? Interesting investigation opportunity perhaps.

john m

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06th Jan 2017 06:56

Customer service has become a clear cut differentiator for the telecom industry, with product/service & price comparisons getting diminished. Though network is another major decision factor for subscribers to stay with or not with their existing operator, but CX holds a great significance. Operator self-service tools have emerged as a rewarding solution for telecom companies. would like to share a blog explaining the significance of self-care tools for telecoms. http://www.kochartech.com/blog/2016/12/29/operator-self-service-tools-re...

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