Energy sector still ranks lowest for customer service in UK

15th Apr 2015

A new announcement from the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) has revealed that the energy sector is still ranking in last place among all industries in its latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), despite the industry achieving marginal gains since the last iteration of the ICS report.

Registering a score of 70.9 (out of 100), the energy sector remains at the bottom of the index, yet has shown the greatest signs of improvement among the 13 sectors represented since July 2014, when the ranking was 69.4.

Part of the improvement is as much down to the strong satisfaction levels being delivered by the sector’s smaller, disruptor market.

A recent Which? survey found that smaller energy firms score far higher than British Gas, Eon, EDF Energy, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE for customer satisfaction among nearly 10,000 consumers surveyed, with Ecotricity, Good Energy and Ebico ranked as the best suppliers and the big six all ranked as the worst.

Another element is the drive to increase the speed in which customers can switch energy suppliers, with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently stating customer churn would be the key to improving service levels in the utilities market.

In January, Energy UK reported that energy companies had made it possible for consumers to change provider in 17 days, down from five weeks. However, a number of industries bodies believe this timeframe should be lowered even further.

The CMA, which has been reviewing the UK’s big six energy firms since last summer, has since said that more than 95% of dual-fuel customers of the big firms would have saved money by switching tariffs or suppliers. The news has led to pressure from regulatory body Ofgem for providers to pass on more wholesale savings to customers.

“Companies must be careful not to see the price reductions that Ofgem has been encouraging as a silver bullet,” says Jo Causon, CEO, Institute of Customer Service. “61% of customers would not compromise service levels in pursuit of a cheaper deal, making it abundantly clear that offering better customer service than a competitor will have a significant impact on revenue.

“There is clear evidence that the utilities sector is heading in the right direction in terms of customer service. While customer satisfaction is at its lowest point since 2010, it is one of only two sectors to have improved. Yet, improvement must not be mistaken for offering a high level of customer service. The sector is still bottom of the pile in terms of customer satisfaction and lags 5.1 points below the average cross-sector score of 76. Efforts must be redoubled to build the trust and loyalty that is essential to the success of the business.”

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