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Industry Research : Consumers Register Disapproval of Energy Suppliers
Glasgow, Scotland, Jan 22, 2015 -- Consumers are continuing to register their disapproval of energy suppliers with customer satisfaction levels with the Big Six major firms including ScottishPower and SSE remaining at 50 per cent or lower.
For the fourth year running npower has scored the lowest with just 35 per cent, rating the worst for its complaint handling and customer service, followed by Scottish Power (41 per cent), EDF Energy (49 per cent), British Gas (49 per cent), E.ON (50 per cent) and SSE (50 per cent).
ScottishPower and Npower both fall well below the GB industry average of 48 per cent in the survey. Spark Energy was the only smaller energy supplier to score as poorly as the Big Six, with a score of 50 per cent.
But it is the smaller suppliers who for the fourth year running are "wiping the floor" with the Big Six on customer service, Which? said.
The best performer was Gloucestershire-based Ecotricity with a score of 84 per cent, closely followed by Wiltshire-based Good Energy (82 per cent), the not-for-profit supplier Ebico (81 per cent), Bristol-based Ovo Energy (80 per cent) and Utility Warehouse (76 per cent).
The last three annual surveys have seen smaller suppliers ranked higher than their Big Six counterparts.
Although the research reveals that the overall customer score for energy companies serving Britain has improved from 41 per cent last year to 48 per cent this year, Which? say this is still low compared to some other products and sectors.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: "The large energy firms, which dominate the market, need to up their game as millions of customers deserve better.
"We need the Competition and Markets Authority to propose radical remedies to fix this broken market. Instead of waiting for the outcome of the competition inquiry, companies should make immediate improvements to help restore trust among their long-suffering customers."
Last year 3.1 million changed electricity suppliers and some 1.1 million customers moved from a large company to a small one.
Energy UK said that represented the highest annual net gain for small suppliers since their records began and more than double the number moving to small suppliers in 2013.
The Big Six, have recently launched new tariffs in response to cut-price deals from smaller rivals, but it is widely acknowledged that the new independent suppliers still tend to offer the cheapest deals.
An SSE spokeswoman said:"The Which survey shows overall customer satisfaction at SSE has increased over the last year, and we are encouraged by these results.
"However, we recognise that more work still needs to be done.
"We take these findings seriously and we will be looking at practical steps we can make to further improve our service to customers
A ScottishPower spokesperson said: "Last year all our customer accounts were migrated on to a new £200 million customer service IT system, and although this will deliver real benefits in the long-term, the installation process has been challenging. The vast majority of accounts have been transferred successfully, but unfortunately the installation of the new systems has meant we have not been able to provide the level of service our customers expect.
"We have worked with Ofgem to set challenging improvement targets in a number of areas, and we have already achieved two of these targets.
"Recently we have brought in 250 people on top of the 450 people already recruited last year to manage all customer contact and complaints as quickly as possible, and we also continue to have the longest call centre opening hours in the industry.
"Everyone at ScottishPower is working exceptionally hard to deliver these improvements and regain our position amongst the best providers of customer service in the energy industry."
Perth-based SSE is facing an investigation by Ofgem over concerns that it restricted competition in the electricity connections market.
The regulator has launched a probe over the way in which housing developments and other sites not yet connected to the grid choose where they get their power from - which can include a local distribution company or an alternative provider.
Ofgem said it wanted to increase competition in this market but had found evidence that SSE possibly breached competition law. It is to investigate whether the company put its rivals at a disadvantage.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, January 5, 2015