You’ve spotted something odd on your gas bill, so you call up your energy company to resolve the problem. How long are you prepared to spend hanging on the phone, waiting for your call to be answered?
Energy providers receive around 60 million contacts a year to their customer service departments.
So you might think that it’s in companies’ interests to make sure you receive an efficient and speedy service. But not according to the latest Which? investigation into energy company customer service.
We found you could be left waiting a long time before your call is answered by a person – the longest wait for a call to be answered was 29 minutes. And while the quickest supplier, Ebico, picked up in an average of 21 seconds, Npower’s average waiting time for customer service was the longest overall – at 17 minutes and five seconds.
We called 16 energy companies 12 times each at set times of the day to find out just how long customers could be left on hold. We recorded how long it took between finishing dialling the customer service number to getting through to an adviser. We then calculated an average waiting time for each company.
And waiting time is important to people. When we asked 896 adults from Great Britain in March 2013 about calling energy suppliers’ customer service, nearly a third told us their biggest bugbear was having to wait on hold for a long time before speaking to someone.
Calling for changes
I’d like to see some changes from energy companies:
- Customer service calls being answered quickly by a human being – within two minutes at the very most. And companies treating their existing customers well – not prioritising sales over service
- Offering a callback option if waiting times are longer than two minutes.
Oh, and one other plea: please stop telling us to go online when we’re on hold. There is usually a good reason to call and speak to someone. And this can quickly become even more frustrating if we are being fed adverts while we’re waiting – especially if we’re the ones paying for the call.
Have you been kept on hold for ages while trying to get through to your energy supplier? What would you like to see change about energy company customer service?