One of the Big Six energy companies under fire for poor customer satisfaction has defended its actions and pointed to the installation of a new IT system for its poor ratings.
Scottish Power, which saw its customer satisfaction rate drop by more than half, said:
The installation of a new £200 million IT system throughout 2014 has led to this sudden drop in our customer satisfaction scores.
All customers have now been migrated on to the new system, which has resulted in a very busy period as accounts have been brought up to date.
Although the transition has been challenging, we have recruited more than 250 additional customer service staff to answer calls and resolve any customer complaints.
We are confident that customers will now start to see real long-term service improvements coming through. We now have the longest call centre opening hours in the industry and have also been expanding our online services.
Energy companies have been warned of the "unacceptable" customer satisfaction levels and told to "act quickly" in a stern letter from Ofgem.
The energy regulator wrote to all companies after a damning report into consumer satisfaction levels found:
- Satisfaction with Npower and Scottish Power had fallen particularly markedly, from 36% to 21% and from 44% to 20% respectively.
- Only SSE managing to maintain levels of satisfaction found two years ago.
- In today's letter, Ofgem warned companies to improve the speed of resolving complaints, communicate better with customers during the process and be more proactive in finding a solution.
Ofgem has written to the Big Six energy companies to demand they improve their poor handling of customer complaints, it has emerged.
The energy watchdog also sent letters to smaller and independent companies, and voiced concerns about the "industry-wide failure" to work with fed-up customers.
In his letter Ofgem chief executive, Dermot Nolan, told companies to improve the speed of resolving complaints, communicate better with customers during the process and be more proactive in finding a solution.
It follows research by Ofgem that found more than half of those who had complained - 57% of domestic customers and 52% of small businesses - were not satisfied with how their supplier handled the problem.
And in what appeared to be a total breakdown of communication - in almost half of cases where the supplier considered the case resolved, the customer did not.
An expert in complaining to companies has encouraged disgruntled customers to write a letter instead of calling customer service if they want results.
Jasper Griegson told Good Morning Britain: "You have got a paper trail, you're not wasting your life and best of all, you're not listening to Vivaldi."
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd has said that its latest annual customer service survey should act as a 'wake-up call" for low-ranking firms.
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.
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.
A Which? annual survey of more than 3,500 people rated the following brands highest:
- First Direct - customer rating of 87%
- Lush (86%)
- John Lewis (83%)
- Lakeland (83%)
- Waitrose (83%)
The UK's six largest energy companies are among the worst offendors for poor customer service, according to an annual survey by consumer group Which?
All of the big six - British Gas, EDF Energy, E.On, npower, ScottishPower and SSE - languished in the bottom fifth of the ranking of the nation's biggest brands.
npower came bottom of the table with a customer score of just 57 percent, replacing last year's lowest scoring company Ryanair.
Second from the bottom is Scottish Power, with a customer rating of 58%, down from joint 62nd in last year's rankings.
A wide-ranging review into the UK's energy market will provide "an opportunity to rebuild trust" between consumers and providers, Energy minister Amber Rudd has said.
I want an energy market that works for consumers first. That is why the Competition and Markets Authority has been asked to undertake the most far-reaching independent inquiry into the market. This will provide an opportunity to rebuild trust in the sector.
A large minority of energy customers are becoming increasingly concerned about the cost of their energy bills as winter looms, with 41% saying they worry about how to heat their home later in the year.
According to a poll from Which? of the 2,106 adults they quizzed:
- A dwindling number of energy consumers trust their supplier to charge them a fair price, with only 18% saying they trust their supplier.
- One quarter (26%) said they did not know whether they could afford to heat their home this winter.
- Only 24% believed that competition between energy companies currently drove down prices for consumers.
Only one in five customers trust their energy supplier to charge them a fair price, a consumer watchdog has found.
The Which? poll showed a "shocking" lack of trust in companies like nPower and EDF, as only 18% of consumers trusted their supplier to charge them a fair price for the power they used.
More than half (54%) said they found it difficult to compare costs between companies.
However, one quarter (26%) rated their supplier for charging them a fair price.
Which? called for simpler tariffs alongside a "credible, independent benchmark" or a "price to beat" set by regulator Ofgem in order to restore consumer trust in energy companies.