Customer satisfaction with UK energy suppliers drops

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A survey commissioned by UK regulator Ofgem and Citizens Advice has revealed that the overall customer satisfaction with their energy providers has declined in the first quarter of 2021 compared to recent quarters.

Customer satisfaction with energy retailers scored 73% in Q1 – 2021 compared to 76% in Q3 and Q4 – 2020. However, customer satisfaction recorded in Q1 – 2021 matches the levels recorded in the first quarter of 2020.

Several customer service metrics including satisfaction with customer services have also declined in Q1 – 2021. Satisfaction with customer service overall dropped to 69% from 73% in Q4 – 2020. Of the 3,200 consumers who participated in the online survey, ̶more customers are not happy with the manner their utilities handle queries via telephone or online. 22% are dissatisfied with telephone service in Q1 – 2021 vs 19% during Q4 – 2020. At the same time, 17% are dissatisfied with online service this year vs 14% in Q4 – 2020. Although the telephone is the most used communication medium by utilities and customers, its use is declining from 58% in Q4 – 2020 to 53% in 2021. Rather, the use of email is gaining traction.

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Despite the number of customer lodging complaints with their suppliers remaining steady at 3% during the first quarter of 2021, satisfaction with how the complaints are being handled is low. Only 23% of the customers are satisfied whilst 68% are dissatisfied with the complaints handling processes.

Due to the dissatisfaction of consumers with their suppliers as a result of a combination of many factors, the number of customers willing to switch suppliers rose to a tracking high of 23%.

Despite the UK rushing towards meeting its smart meter rollout target of equipping all its customers with an advanced meter by 2050, consumers are satisfied with the way the smart meters are being installed. Satisfaction with the installation process is now at 81% (compared to 76% at the start of tracking in Q4 2018). Half of the consumers surveyed stated they had a smart meter. Smart meters will also enable consumers to switch.

Jo Allen, Customer Engagement Ambassador at Pegasystems, said: “Ofgem’s research suggests providing customers with smart meters are a great way to boost satisfaction. However, there is so much more suppliers could be doing to improve happiness further. For example, Ofgem’s research revealed the top third complaint to energy suppliers was pricing/cost of energy.

“At the moment, the onus is very much on the customer to act on the information their smart meter presents them. If energy suppliers looked at the customer’s data and made personalised suggestions on how to reduce their energy usage proactively, that would save consumers time and money. It would also make it easier for financially vulnerable customers to manage how much energy they use to help them avoid going into debt. Proactive, helpful engagement at the right time would add value to the customer experience, reduce complaints and drive customer loyalty – issues that are top of mind for all energy providers in 2021.”

Find out more about the report.