City financial analysts recently stated that the big six energy suppliers will lose a quarter of their customers over the next six years. Some might even be driven out of the market says the research arms of Citigroup investment bank and consumers will suffer as a result because dual fuel bills will be 20% higher.
The report concluded: “Due to increasing competition we see the market share of the ‘Big 6’ in energy supply declining from 98% in 2013 to below 70% by 2020. When combined with declining demand and lower margins the total profit pool available to the large energy suppliers could fall [by about] 40% from [about] £1.2bn in 2013 to just £700m.”
But why are customers switching?
The Big Six energy suppliers have been ordered to improve “frankly awful” customer service after regulator Ofgem found more than half of customers were unhappy with how complaints were handled. They are also facing an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority and will need to restructure their supply channel and most importantly improve customer service if they are to keep customers.
Audrey Gallacher, Director of Energy at Consumer Futures, recently said: “Energy companies have repeatedly said they want to rebuild consumer trust. Good customer service and complaints handling are key ingredients to achieving this and suppliers still have a long way to go.”
With snow and the coldest winter for centuries predicted for 2014, energy providers will need to prioritise improving the customer experience and brand loyalty, which is often tested to breaking point during a weather crisis.
Delivering a high quality round-the-clock customer service isn’t easy, especially not if they are still stuck in an ‘only during working hours’ loop, when their strategy should adjust to our digitally connected 24/7 world. However without the right technology in place to support customer service delivery, organisations will continue to fail to meet or exceed their customer’s expectations.
Maybe the energy companies can learn something from the water service industry, whom we have helped to address the key issues we believe to be offering a consistent customer service across all customer contact channels.
At Synthetix, we answer over 10 million answers per year through our web self-service technologies. In fact nearly 40% of all UK water companies chose Synthetix’s online customer service technologies of which 4 rated top for customer service.We have put together free guides with practical advice on implementing web self-service for energy companies - which we think they need to consider - when revising their customer service delivery strategy. Visit the download section of our website for more information.