One energy company has a particularly dire track record when it comes to customer service, as Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith knows only too well.
Atrocious. Pathetic. These are some of the printable descriptions you’ve sent us about a company that has been a consistent performer in our satisfaction surveys – finishing bottom for its industry seven years in a row.
One such result may be regarded as a misfortune; seven times requires extraordinary incompetence. Step forward Npower.
Bad customer service
I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of experiencing this first-hand since I moved house last August to a property with slightly complicated meter arrangements – it had been a holiday-let business as well as a home.
This meant that a business tariff applied to some of the property. Incumbent supplier Npower was given a meter reading but still tried to apply a bill for hundreds of pounds – presumably on the basis that I was running a small factory.
My meter reading, it would seem, had disappeared into a hole.
Staff continually denied that I (or rather my account) existed.
One set of customer service staff told me not to pay the business bill. Fine. But their counterparts sitting at the business customer desk began chasing me for not paying the bill their domestic colleagues had instructed me to ignore. The left and right hands saw no merit in communicating with each other.
Worst of the energy suppliers for staff knowledge
It’s no surprise to me that, of all the energy suppliers, you identified Npower as the one with the least knowledgeable staff in our new survey of the best and worst customer call centres.
It took eight months of emails, unreturned calls, endless waiting on the line – often 20 minutes before a human deigned to answer – conversations that went in circles and a folder full of contradictory bills and correspondence before I got a proper bill and acknowledgement that I existed. More importantly, it meant I could switch.
Npower’s customer score in our 2015 energy companies survey was a pitiful 35%. In comparison, four top-rated energy suppliers have a customer score of more than 80% – Ebico, Ecotricity, Good Energy and Ovo Energy.
One respondent summed up their experience of Npower like this: ‘They have no interest in customers; customers are a necessary evil.’ This description will ring true for thousands – it certainly does for me.
Have you experienced particularly good or bad customer service? What do you think the energy companies can do to improve their customer service?