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Voice of the Customer

Small and medium-sized energy firms have cemented their place at the top of the rankings in the annual Which? customer satisfaction survey, while less impressive ratings left the biggest providers stuck among the also-rans yet again.

The consumer champion surveyed more than 8,000 people across the UK about their energy supplier and asked them to rate companies on a number of criteria including value for money, customer service, bill accuracy and digital tools.

Octopus Energy, which now supplies more than a million homes, topped the table for the second year in a row. It received an outstanding 83 per cent customer score and five-star ratings for billing accuracy, customer service and complaints handling.

Only a small margin separated the next five energy companies – Ebico, Bulb Energy, Pure Planet, People’s Energy and Powershop. They all performed exceptionally well when it came to billing accuracy.

Among the top six companies were three newcomers – People’s Energy, Powershop and Pure Planet. Despite only entering the market within the last three years, they were all rated very highly for billing accuracy, and well on bill clarity and value for money, equalling more established rivals.

The biggest six energy companies – British Gas, Eon, EDF, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE (now part of Ovo) – all finished in the lower third of the table, with Scottish Power languishing in the bottom three after achieving a lowly customer score of 51 per cent.

Customers with these six energy giants were more likely on average to have encountered problems with their provider. A third of British Gas customers, three in 10 Scottish Power customers and around a quarter of EDF Energy, Eon, Npower and SSE customers told us they had experienced a problem within the last year. In comparison, just one in 10 (11%) Octopus Energy customers said they had a problem with their provider.

SSE and Eon were the highest-scoring among the biggest energy firms and came in joint 24th with smaller firm E. SSE’s household energy business was recently purchased by Ovo, which means customers could see changes in their service in the future.

Eon is also set to take over Innogy, Npower’s parent company, in the next 12 months. These two major acquisitions could shake up the market and mean customers see changes.

Robin Hood Energy suffered the biggest fall in the rankings after it plummeted from second place last year to a mid-table ranking, tied with Boost Energy and Utilita.

While Robin Hood customers were generally positive about value for money and billing, a smaller proportion of people told us they would recommend the firm compared to last year.

Although a number of small companies dominated the top of the rankings, not all of the small and medium-sized firms performed well. Newcomer to the survey Ampower performed badly with a disappointing customer score of 53 per cent. Customers rated its billing, customer service and digital tools as poor.

Together Energy finished bottom of the table, despite having secured a mid-table position last year. It scored poor two-star ratings from customers for billing accuracy, clarity, customer service and value for money.

Last year, First Utility was rebranded as Shell Energy, and it has since dropped from a mid-table position to the bottom seven. While customers praised it for billing accuracy, its customer service was rated poorly.

Natalie Hitchins, Head of Home Products and Services at Which?, said: “Consumers have dozens of energy suppliers to choose from – and it is clear that some newer challenger providers are better than their larger counterparts at keeping customers happy and delivering a better service.

“Customers shell out hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds a year on their gas and electricity bills so it is right that they expect good service from their energy supplier.

“If you are one of the many customers out there who feels their supplier is falling short, consider moving to one that can offer a better service as well as cheaper prices – you could save hundreds of pounds a year.”

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