‘Energy brands’ marketing drives fails to meet needs of customers’

The customer-focused marketing drives of the UK’s big energy suppliers have failed to have the desired effect with customer satisfaction with the industry’s leading players  plummeting to new depths in 2013, according to a Which? study. 

Customer satisfaction with energy companies has sunk to a new low, according to a study.

The consumer watchdog’s latest annual energy company survey revealed that the overall customer satisfaction score fell from 49 per cent last year to 41 per cent. It is one of the lowest posted by Which? from all its satisfaction surveys and highlighted the “failings of a broken energy market”, claimed researchers.

The country’s big six suppliers, which dominate more than 90 per cent of the industry, were rooted tp the bottom of the table despite their attempts to get closer to homeonwers over the period. Npower posted the lowest score for the third year running at just 31 per cent, closely followed by British Gas at 39 per cent. Both SSE and Scottish Power recorded 41 per cent, while EDF and E.ON scored 44 per cent and 45 per cent respectively. The shift reflects an upswing in people dumping the energy giants last year in the wake of the winter price hikes.

Smaller energy companies benefitted from the trend with the top spot held by Good Energy and Ecotricity at 82 per cent. 

Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?, says: “Once again the biggest energy companies have been beaten by the smaller suppliers but there are no winners in a broken market that consistently fails consumers.

“Our findings highlight why it’s vital that Ofgem’s first Annual Review of competition clearly identifies why the market is failing and what needs to change.  We want to see radical solutions to improve competition and keep prices in check, like the biggest energy companies being forced to separate wholesale generation from the retail arms of their business.”

The findings come amid the first batch of reforms from industry regulator Ofgem and ahead of further changes in April. The watchdog is forcing suppliers to only offer four tariffs to customers for both gas and electricity alongside simplification of how prices are charged. Additional changes will see customers regularly notified on the cheapest energy bills firms offer and the introduction of a Traffic Comparison Rate to make it easier to compare prices.

The country’s biggest brands are all ramping up their marketing activity in the coming months in an attempt to boost customer satisfaction levels around their services. British Gas is set to expand its Hive connected-home offering, while SSE is putting the finishing touches to a strategy it hopes will create more seamless interactions between shopper data, media consumption and customer attitudes.

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