Ecotricity customer complaints fall

24 October 2012

Ecotricity customer complaints graph

Ecotricity have again proved they have the best customer service in the energy industry – with the lowest level of customer complaints for the third year running.

While Ecotricity customer numbers have grown by 25% over the last 12 months as householders embrace green energy and look for alternatives to the ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers – during the same period customer complaints fell 7%1  – from what was already an industry leading low number.

Meanwhile, the two worst performing energy companies were EDF with complaints rising by 78%2  and British Gas who came out the worst overall with complaints rising by 62.5%3. Both companies buried the numbers on their website, in a practice typical of the ‘Big Six’ despite Ofgem regulations requiring energy suppliers to publically report the figure. 

Under rules introduced in 2008 by energy industry regulator Ofgem, all energy companies are required to publish an annual report (for the 12 months to the end of September) showing the number of complaints received that have not been resolved by the end of the working day following the day of receipt. The report must be published by the end of October each year. Ecotricity’s  Customer Complaints report is now available online.

Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said: “We showed last year that our customer service was better than anyone else’s in the industry and we’ve improved that service further.

“This is a vindication of our entire approach to customer service, where 90% of calls are answered is less than ten seconds and the query is resolved right there and then.

“Ecotricity created the complaints per 1,000 customers metric to show it’s possible to compare customer service like for like. We collect and publish the results in the one place because Ofgem won’t. Energy companies are obliged to publish the data, so we’ve made it easy to compare their customer service.

“People are switching to Ecotricity because their energy bills are spent building new sources of green energy, not paying out dividends to shareholders – and in addition our customer service is the best in the industry.”

Despite the surge in customers moving to Ecotricity, Britain’s first renewable energy provider, customer complaints fell by 7% to just 0.51 per 1000 customers over the previous 12 months – almost 40 times lower than the level of complaints to British Gas over the same period – with complaints increased by 62.5% to 20.10 per 1000 customers.

No. of complaints per 1000 customers for the 12 months up until September 30th 2010-2012 

    2011 2012
1 Ecotricity 0.55 0.51
2 Co-Operative 2.20 0.81
3 Good Energy 5.81 2.97
4 E.ON  7.63 8.02
5 Scottish & Southern  12.10 11.95
6 Ovo Energy 13.04 15.23
7 Scottish Power 17.89 15.55
8 EDF 8.86  15.80
9 nPower 18.45  16.04
10 British Gas 12.37 20.10

Source: OFGEM defined a complaint for this purpose as being any expression of dissatisfaction that has not been resolved by the end of the working day following the day of receipt. All energy companies are required to publish an annual report showing the number of complaints received that have not been resolved by the end of the working day following the day of receipt. Complaint numbers and customer figures are taken directly from suppliers own websites or in the case of the latter from other publicly available sources.

On customer service, Vince said:  “Our focus on great customer service has allowed us to further improve our complaints handling, even though we again experience such rapid growth, which can lead to falling standard in some companies.  

“The figures show what we all know to be true, big energy companies provide poor customer service.  We’ve all been there, wading through the endless phone menus, queues and scripted conversations.  We think people deserve better.

“It’s not rocket science.  We answer the phone ourselves and quickly, and that first person you speak to resolves 90% of all queries right there and then.  If we promise to do something we do it (obvious but rare). And when something does go wrong, we have a designated Customer Champion to fix it – in most cases within 24 hours.  In fact these new figures show that in the last year there were only 33 occasions when we couldn’t fix a problem that day.

“The beauty of the way we do customer service is that it is scalable whether you have 70,000 or 7 million customers.”

On customer growth of 25%, Vince said: “We think people are just fed-up with the ‘Big Six’.

“The energy market is hideously complicated with over 500 tariffs and the Big Six energy suppliers have a vested interest in keeping it that way. That’s a big part of the reason why 75% of people never switched supplier.

“At Ecotricity we have just two tariffs, the best customer service by far and our profits go back into building new green energy – it’s what we call turning bills into mills.
“Ecotricity’s mission is to change the way Britain makes and uses energy. On average, over the last 8 years, we invest more per customer on new sources of green energy than all the other suppliers combined.”

[1,2,3 Figures based on number of customer complaints per 1,000 customers. Ofgem defined a complaint for this purpose as being any expression of dissatisfaction. All energy companies are required to publish an annual report showing the number of complaints received that had not been resolved by the end of the working day following the day of receipt.]


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