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Energy suppliers must do more to engage customers

Energy suppliers must do more to engage customers

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 14/12/2016
First Published: 30/04/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Do you feel loyal to your energy supplier, or even engaged with them? Probably not. For many people, the only communication they have with their supplier is when the bill arrives, while thoughts invariably turn to how expensive things have become. It's time for change, says customer engagement specialists Opower, and suppliers must do more.

The research found that utilities companies are outright failing to engage their customers and build loyalty, despite attempts to communicate more frequently. But, this could be the very problem – customers typically want better communication, not more, when dealing with their supplier at critical times.

The study identified 12 critical moments when customers wanted personalised information from their provider – ranging from moving house, receiving a high bill or experiencing a power cut – yet these were some of the areas where customers felt their providers performed the worst.

The figures show that 73% of customers who had received a high bill in the last 12 months said it came as a surprise and 71% said that it had caused anxiety, and 61% would be more likely to switch providers as a result of receiving such an unexpectedly high bill. More than 80% of customers think their provider should send alerts when unusually high bills could arise, and that they should offer helpful customer support and information about rate changes.

However, less than half of those customers were satisfied with their experience during such critical interactions, but conversely, people who said their bill was easy to understand, received helpful advice or felt that arranging a connection was easy, were less than half as likely to consider switching providers. This shows how important the right communication and support can be, and highlights how much providers need to do to change the opinions of customers.

"Most customers think about their energy provider for just a few minutes each year," said John Webster at Opower. "But if you listen to customers, it's clear the solution lies not in telling them about great service provided or creating new reasons to contact them, but by making the customer experience better during the existing moments that are most important to them."

In fact, nearly one third (30%) of respondents said that improvements in customer service would have the biggest impact on satisfaction levels with their gas and electricity provider, so if you're not happy with the service you receive, it could be time to make a change. Use our comparison tool to find the tariffs to suit you – you can even filter them according to service rating, so you can be sure you'll get a provider that meets your high standards and offers the complete package.

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Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.