Press release:

Challenger suppliers lead the pack – but overall satisfaction falls in largest ever energy customer satisfaction report

  • Small energy suppliers sweep the board in the 12th annual uSwitch.com Energy Customer Satisfaction Report, achieving some of the highest scores ever recorded
  • Challenger supplier Octopus Energy – included in the report for the first time – ranks first for overall customer satisfaction with a score of 96%, while the big six suppliers prop up the bottom of the table
  • Overall satisfaction with energy suppliers falls 2.5% – the first drop since 2011 – while ScottishPower is the only supplier included in previous surveys to improve its score
  • npower is the lowest ranked supplier for overall customer satisfaction with a score of 65% but sees the biggest improvement in customer service with a 4% rise
  • This year’s Energy Customer Satisfaction Report is the largest ever in the industry, surveying a record number of 17,313 consumers and includes more suppliers than ever before.

New entrants lead the way in the 2018 Energy Awards from uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service.

Challenger supplier Octopus Energy, which launched in 2016 and is included in the report for the first time, takes first place for overall customer satisfaction with a score of 96%, taking home the Supplier of the Year award. It also comes top in four other categories including customer service and billing services.

Hot on its heels is Bulb, another supplier making its debut in the report. It achieves second for overall customer satisfaction with a score of 92% and triumphs in five other categories including value for money, account management and green services. Satisfaction for OVO Energy, the overall top supplier in the past three years, has dropped by 9%. OVO Energy now comes in fourth place overall, behind Utility Warehouse, as all top three spots go to new entrants.

The annual uSwitch Energy Customer Satisfaction Report surveys over 17,000 energy customers, and ranks Britain’s big six suppliers and nine independent providers.

While overall customer satisfaction has dropped 2.5% in the last year, the new entrants have all performed strongly. In fact, the top seven suppliers in this years’ report have all scored more than any of the big six energy companies have ever managed, demonstrating the strength of choice now on offer for customers.

The drop in overall satisfaction ends a prolonged period of general increases in this area, possibly due to a round of price rises for customers on Standard Variable Tariffs. In fact, the individual satisfaction score for all previously included suppliers has decreased since last year, with the exception of ScottishPower. With an overall score of 71%, ScottishPower has the highest overall customer satisfaction of the big six suppliers, earning the Large Supplier of the Year crown, a title held by E.ON for the past five years.

Energy customers are clearly impressed by the offerings from newer suppliers but less enamoured with the larger and more established players – highlighted by the fact that every big six supplier is at the bottom of the table. There is a head and shoulders gap of 5% between ScottishPower and the next supplier, Sainsburys Energy, which is itself owned by British Gas. Meanwhile, npower remains at the bottom of the table for the 10th consecutive year, despite seeing the biggest improvements in customer service and billing services.

Table: overall customer satisfaction

Rank Energy supplier Overall customer satisfaction score Change
1 Octopus Energy 95.6% New entrant
2 Bulb 91.6% New entrant
3 Utility Warehouse 89.8% New entrant
4 OVO Energy 85.6% -9%
5 FirstUtility 84.9% -2%
6 Utilita 81.1% New entrant
7 Green Star Energy 81.0% New entrant
8 The Cooperative Energy 77.9% New entrant
9 Sainsburys Energy 76.1% New entrant
10 ScottishPower 70.6% +1%
11 SSE 70.5% -5%
12 EDF Energy 70.1% -7%
13 E.ON 69.8% -9%
14 British Gas 68.0% -7%
15 npower 65.0% -2%

Source: uSwitch.com Energy Customer Satisfaction Report 2018

The only two categories which saw an increase in their average score this year were online services and green services, won by Octopus Energy and Bulb respectively.

Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.com says: “Following a year which saw widespread price hikes to poor-value Standard Variable Tariffs, it’s no surprise to find that consumers aren’t as happy as they were before. But consumers are clearly impressed with what’s on offer from challenger brands as an alternative to the larger and more established suppliers, demonstrating the level of competition and choice we see in the energy market today.

“Octopus Energy have stormed the rankings and takes the crown for supplier of the year. The fact that two smaller companies – Octopus and Bulb – have won the majority of this year’s awards, sends a strong message to the more established players that customers will look elsewhere if they don’t feel they are being treated properly.

“For anyone who isn’t satisfied with any aspect of their energy company’s service, whether its price, billing, environmental credentials or something else, there is no need to put up with it. Shopping around for a better deal only takes a few minutes and can save up to £491[1]. As these awards prove, there’s an energy supplier out there for everyone.”

Greg Jackson, CEO of Octopus Energy says: “We’re thrilled that Octopus topped uSwitch’s survey of 17,000 energy customers. It’s proof that customers can have lower prices, excellent service and sustainable energy. Companies like Octopus are revolutionising this vital sector for the better and we urge customers of all suppliers to demand better or vote with their feet. We will welcome them with open tentacles!”

Hayden Wood, co-founder of Bulb, says: “At Bulb, we strive to make energy simpler, cheaper and greener. So it’s humbling that our members helped us be named as the best supplier in categories including easiest to switch, best value for money and best for green services.

“In the last 12 months we have signed up nearly 300,000 members, suggesting that families are fed up with poor customer service and expensive, confusing tariffs.

“More and more households recognise they can switch to a better and greener deal without paying over the odds.”

Colin McNeill, Head of Retail at ScottishPower says: “We have consistently seen improving performance in industry surveys this year for the services we offer to customers.  We are pleased to be the highest ranked large supplier, and to see our overall score moving in the right direction.

“The energy retail market in the UK is dramatically changing and across 2018 we will be launching a range of new products and partnerships to continue improving the services that we offer to our customers.

“We speak to our customers every day, and we have the most engaged customer base of the larger companies. This has helped us to lead the industry in switching people away from standard tariffs, and the feedback we receive from customers will also help us to continually deliver a better standard of service.”

Chris Thewlis, customer services director at npower says: “It’s disappointing as we’re currently receiving the second lowest number of complaints per 100K customers out of the ‘Big Six’ – and we’ve reduced complaints by 75% in the last 4 years.  However, we’re encouraged to note the results show we have the biggest year-on-year improvement of all suppliers in several categories, including customer service, billing and online services.”

Full list of 2018 Customer Satisfaction Award winners:

 

Award Winner Runner-up Large Supplier Winner
Supplier of the Year Octopus Energy Bulb ScottishPower
Best Value for Money Bulb Octopus Energy ScottishPower
Best Customer Service Octopus Energy Utility Warehouse British Gas
Most Likely to be Recommended Octopus Energy Bulb British Gas
Best Online Experience Octopus Energy Bulb ScottishPower
Best App Utilita First Utility British Gas
Best Rewards Utility Warehouse Bulb British Gas
Best Energy Saving Support Bulb Utilita British Gas
Best Account Management Bulb OVO Energy EDF Energy
Best Smart Meter Experience Utilita British Gas British Gas
Easiest to Switch to Bulb Octopus Energy EDF Energy
Best Meter Reading Services Utility Warehouse First Utility SSE
Best Billing Services Octopus Energy Utility Warehouse EDF Energy
Best Deal For You Bulb Octopus Energy EDF Energy
Best Green Services Bulb Octopus Energy British Gas

 

Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.

— ends —

Notes to editors

The uSwitch Energy Customer Satisfaction Report (CSR) is an annual online survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of uSwitch. The CSR has occurred annually or biannually since 2006, providing eleven years of insight into the customer satisfaction of the UK energy market. The CSR aims to independently ascertain what energy consumers think of their supplier(s) in a variety of areas. It also asks more general questions regarding their attitudes to the energy industry, the technology they use and how they switch. Consumers were asked to give their opinions regarding satisfaction with their supplier(s) across 15 categories. The Supplier of the Year Award is given to the supplier with the best score for Overall Customer Satisfaction.

 

This year, the overall survey sample size was increased to include over 17,000 energy consumers; this has resulted in a record number of 15 energy suppliers being reported on, all meeting the minimum sample size of 150 customer responses.

 

Categories are judged as follows:

  • Supplier of the Year: based on customer scores for overall customer satisfaction with their supplier
  • Best Value for Money: based on customer scores for the value of money they receive from suppliers
  • Best Customer Service: based on customer scores for the customer service provided by suppliers, including the variety of methods available to contact them, the ease of contacting them, range and quality of information, the time taken to respond to any queries, the speed of query resolution, the satisfaction with the outcome of queries, etc
  • Most Likely to be Recommended: based on customer scores on whether they would recommend their supplier to family and friends
  • Best Online Experience: based on customer scores for online services provided by suppliers, including ease of use, range and quality of the services available, availability of smartphone services, reliability, etc
  • Best App: based on customer scores for mobile or tablet apps provided by suppliers, including ease of use, design and functionality
  • Best Rewards: based on customer scores for incentives or rewards schemes provided by suppliers, including the value and range of rewards, ease of redeeming rewards, etc
  • Best Energy Saving Support: based on customer scores for energy efficiency services provided by suppliers, including the quality of information provided to help reduce the amount of energy you use, the knowledge and helpfulness of their staff, the value and range of energy efficiency measures available and the flexibility and ease of any installations, etc
  • Best Account Management: based on customer scores on how easy suppliers make it to manage their energy account, including the ease of speaking to someone, sending you meter reading reminders, being quick to generate updated bills when you supply new meter readings, allowing you to control your direct debit and amount etc
  • Best Smart Meter Experience: based on customer scores for satisfaction with smart meter installations
  • Easiest to Switch to: based on customer scores for the transfer process to their current supplier
  • Best Meter Reading Services: based on customer scores for meter reading services offered by their supplier, including the frequency of readings, the flexibility with regard to time of day the reading is made, friendliness of readers, the option to submit your own meter reading, etc
  • Best Billing Services: based on customer scores for billing services offered by their supplier, including the accuracy of bills, the clarity of the information, estimated consumption, the frequency and timeliness of bills, etc
  • Best Deal For You: based on customer scores on whether their supplier is ensuring they are on the best of their deals
  • Best Green Services: based on customer scores for green services offered by their supplier, including the availability of green products, the overall communication about green issues to you, the investment in renewable or low carbon energy sources, etc

 

  1. Between 1 April 2017 and 30 September 2017, at least 10% of people who switched energy supplier for both gas & electricity with uSwitch saved £491 or more.

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

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