Large energy suppliers make progress on customer complaint handling

Published on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 11:17
Posted by Scott Buckler

Customers are seeing a steady improvement in their overall satisfaction with the complaints handling processes of the largest energy suppliers, but further action is required according to Ofgem’s annual customer complaints survey

This is the third such survey and follows action by Ofgem last year when it fined British Gas £2.5m and npower £2m as a result of investigations into the suppliers’ complaints handling processes. A third investigation into EDF Energy continues.

Of those surveyed, two in five domestic customers expressed satisfaction with the way their complaint was handled, compared to around one in four in 2010. However, it remains the case that dissatisfaction remains high with around half of all respondents remaining either ‘quite’ or ‘very’ dissatisfied with the way the complaint was handled.

Scottish Power and SSE retained their position as the companies with the highest customer satisfaction rates and are the only suppliers to have more satisfied than dissatisfied customers. EDF Energy again has the largest proportion of domestic customers being dissatisfied with the overall complaints process. These findings mirror those of Consumer Focus which published its latest quarterly league table of energy complaints in March.

The Ofgem survey shows that although there has been steady improvement in satisfaction levels across all six companies since 2010, the area that causes most dissatisfaction is the speed of dealing with the complaint and the lack of further contact details to discuss the complaint if they needed to. While there has been a decrease in the number of times a customer needs to contact their supplier until a complaint is resolved, only one in six complaints are resolved in their first contact.

The research has identified a number of priority areas where suppliers can focus their efforts for improving customer satisfaction in future. In particular, aside from improving the areas causing most dissatisfaction it highlights that calling a customer if promised or agreed, taking a proactive approach to resolving the complaint, and the ability to make decisions there and then will ultimately improve overall customer satisfaction with the complaints handling process. Suppliers should review the survey results to see how they can make further improvements.

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