Consumers have rated Npower as having the worst customer service in the UK, while British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Scottish Power and SSE all sit in the bottom 20 of a list of the 100 brands Which? asked 3,621 UK consumers to rate.
Based on various satisfaction and service quality metrics, Npower’s customer service received a score of 57%, with no other energy company receiving a ranking greater than 68%. In comparison, First Direct, which ranked top of the list, received a rating of 87%.
A year to forget
It’s been a tough 2014 for utility providers, so far – but there’s little sympathy from joe public. Price hikes at the end of 2013 caused much of the damage before the year had even begun; then came storms at the start of 2014 which led to what was deemed serious service failures by many of the energy providers, and widespread criticism.
As a result, complaints lodged against big six suppliers between January and June of 2014 reached 22,671; a number that exceeded the whole of 2013 by over 5,000.
“The Big Six energy companies have now hit rock bottom for customer service and, with record high levels of complaints, it is clear just how far they still have to go to put things right for their customers,” says Richard Lloyd, executive director for Which?.
“Good companies know the value of customer service, so it’s disappointing that some of our biggest firms seem to have a lot to learn about keeping their customers happy. This survey should be a wake-up call for the companies with the lowest customer scores.”
The good news is – the only way is up for energy firms, if they can reengage customers and build trust through fairer pricing and quicker customer service response rates.
Ryanair recently showcased how easy it can be to bounce back from rock bottom – the airline, previously rated as the worst brand for customer service by the 2013 Which? survey, subsequently transformed its customer service processes and has seen record flight booking numbers in return, as public perception quickly swung round
Time will tell for energy companies, however; and they may yet struggle with the bugbears consumer currently experience. Which? asked respondents to list their top ten customer service gripes as a result of the study, and this is what came back:
• Automated telephone systems (43%)
• Passed around lots of people (37%)
• Annoying hold music (35%)
• Staff talking to each other (34%)
• Rude staff (33%)
• Long queues (33%)
• Trying to sell you unwanted products (32%)
• Lack of knowledge about products (24%)
• Standard responses to problems (24%)
• Having to wait for help or a response (21%)
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.