Here at Selectra, we believe that energy companies can dazzle with as many promotions and cheap prices as they like, but unless they can get those customers to stay, they can't be classed as the best electricity supplier on the market.
Fantastic customer service should be the cornerstone of any electricity supplier so we have picked the best of the new electricity companies and compared them to each other to see which provides the best customer service on the market.
Many customers feel that they can’t trust their energy company due to painful price increases, terrible call waiting times, failures to resolve problems and horrendously inaccurate bills. People can’t be blamed for being sceptical about customer service promises.
We have discovered that 42% of people don’t feel confident comparing the huge range of electricity providers that are available on the market. Clever marketing doesn’t make it any easier, with companies vying for consumers business and often using smoke and mirrors to make it seem like they are offering the cheapest gas and electricity prices and the best service. All these things can make it really difficult to find the best deals.
In fact, if you haven’t switched energy suppliers in the last two years then you are probably getting ripped off. More than 8 million customers are currently on standard tariffs which means they are on the worst possible deal.
However, high energy prices aren’t the worst problem.
Over 21% of people felt that they would receive worse customer service if they changed from their current supplier. This was especially common among customers of the big six energy companies who were more loyal and less likely to switch. This is unfortunate, because it is exactly these companies which rank as the the worst when it comes to customer care, year after year.
Many customers are scared to switch to one of the big six which have opened their doors in the last five years. However, they shouldn’t be afraid. In fact it is exactly these new suppliers which are doing really well in the customer service polls - not only offering competitive prices but also fantastic service.
As smaller independent suppliers begin to erode the monopoly in the energy market away from the big six suppliers, customer service performance in the bigger companies has also shown some encouraging signs, but it’s still early days.
We have had a look at the best of the small independent suppliers and put their customer service to the test. So if you are looking for more than just cheap energy prices then read on to find out which energy supplier puts their customers first.
1. Best Electricity Supplier for Communication
Nobody likes waiting on hold. For most people, one of the most important aspects of customer service is how quickly a company answers the phone.
We compared how quickly each of the suppliers answered their customer service phone number. The clear winner in this case was Tonik who on average answered their phone in 24 seconds.
2. Best Electricity Supplier for Complaints Resolution
Complaining is no fun. That's why we rated companies on their abilities to resolve conflict quickly.
If you have to complain it’s reassuring to know that any one of the suppliers in our top 5 will resolve your problem quickly. Only 11 customers from 100,000 needed to complain to an outside body with Bulb.
3. Best Electricity Supplier for Ease of Switching
Switching can seem scary! The companies in our top 5 have all committed to the switch guarantee so there's no need to hide behind your sofa.
Customers want a guarantee that they will have a smooth switch. All of the companies have a switch guarantee but So Energy is the winner, with 100% of switches carried out within the 21 day limit.
4. Best Electricity Supplier for Accurate Billing
We know you'd rather spend your money on something other than a surprisingly high energy bill. That's why accurate billing was another of our categories. Luckily all of the companies in our test came out tops.
Many customers fear an unwanted large bill that they didn’t expect. So Energy were nearly perfect - 98.4% of their customers received an accurate bill!
The Best Energy Provider Is.....
The winner of the prize for overall best customer service in 2018 is So Energy who have proven that they are easy to switch to, send accurate bills and answer their phones in record quick time!
Which energy supplier has the lowest call waiting times?
Who doesn’t hate the sound of call waiting music? With waiting times for energy companies ranging from seconds to hours there isn’t one of us who hasn’t cringed when we have heard the words: “I’m just going to put you on hold.”
Amazingly all of the suppliers in our top 5 answered the phone in less than 5 minutes with the quickest, Tonik Energy, answering in an average of 24 seconds. This means that you can get through to your energy company faster than you can make a cup of tea.
However, other suppliers aren’t doing as well. Which? research has found that some energy suppliers are leaving their customers with shocking call wait times. The worst offender was E.on who left its customers having to wait an average of 14 minutes to get through to a customer service agent.
Our customers often complain of ineffective automated switchboards, waiting for an inordinate amount of time only to be cut off and no response to emails. Sometimes it can be daunting picking up the phone to talk to your energy supplier.
We’d definitely recommend that customers make sure they try to call before 12pm when the call waiting times are lower and a top tip if you can’t get through? Say you are a new customer. You won’t get through to the right person but you will get transferred faster!
Which energy company resolves complaints the fastest?
Nobody wants to have to complain, but where energy is concerned you are almost always going to encounter some hiccups along the way. It’s reassuring to know that if you have problems it won’t take you months to get it resolved - especially where your electricity bills are concerned.
Our top 5 have exceptionally low numbers of complaints passed to the Energy Ombudsman, who the energy industry is regulated by. In the case of the best, Bulb Energy, only 11 customers needed the Ombudsman to get involved in their claim. Considering that the worst supplier on the Citizens Advice list had nearly 10,000 referrals, that’s no mean feat!
Customers are often afraid that smaller energy suppliers will have worse customer service than their bigger competitors. However, that just isn’t the case. While bigger suppliers often don’t care about customer service, independent suppliers know that every customer counts - they want you to come back year after year.
The proof in the pudding is in the eating. Unlike many of the bigger companies our top 5 competitors don’t have any exit fees on the majority of their tariffs.
Why is this important?
Well, exit fees are a penalty you have to pay if you leave your contract early. This means that if your contract has exit fees and you compare energy suppliers and see a better deal, you will have to think twice about switching as it will cost you money. They are like a ball and chain keeping you chained to your supplier.
If your electricity and gas supplier doesn’t have exit fees this means you are free to switch whenever you want. Your energy company trusts that you want to stay with them because of their cheap prices and fantastic customer service. It also gives them an incentive to keep them that way.
Which energy supplier has the most accurate billing?
Everyone at some point or another has received an unwanted electricity bill and it's something that can stress out even the most relaxed of us. Energy prices are already high and we don't need companies charging us extra by mistake to add to our worries.
Add to this the fact that there have been so many scare stories in the press recently about customers who racked up hundreds of pounds of unwanted debt with cowboy energy companies and it's understandable that customers are hesitant to switch suppliers.
However, the reality is that the majority of small suppliers have a pretty good track record of accurate bills. So Energy, which had the most accurate billing in our comparison and has sent 98.4% of customers a spot on bill this year. We’d say that’s something to celebrate!
Many energy companies are guilty of underestimating bills to get customers to sign up, only to increase direct debits at a later date causing debt and misery for their customers.
Loyal customers will also find that their bills go up radically every year - many of the bigger energy suppliers have put up their prices astronomically this year but that’s not the only danger to customers’ hard-earned money. According to recent statistics, some companies have up to 71% of their customers on standard variable tariffs.
These tariffs are an outright rip-off, which customers end up defaulting to when their contract ends. We would recommend that if you don’t know what contract you are on then you should phone your energy company and find out if you are on one of these overpriced tariffs. They can be hundreds of pounds more expensive than a fixed or variable contract and you can switch away in a matter of minutes.
Which energy supplier has a problem-free switch?
Many customers fear switching supplier because it feels like it will just be too much hassle. Visions of piles of paperwork and engineer visits often discourage people from making that phone call.
Customers are getting braver though. Last year over 5.5 million people switched energy suppliers. Nearly 3 out of 10 customers opted to switch to one of the small or medium-sized suppliers like those in our top 5.
To protect customers, there is something called the Energy Switch Guarantee. The Energy Switch Guarantee is a commitment that promises a speedy and safe switch from one energy provider to another. When you switch energy suppliers the changeover happens in three simple steps:
Step 1 You need to choose your new supplier and sign up. That’s it! Your new supplier will do all the work. They will notify your current provider that you are switching and send details of your new energy supply agreement for your review.
Step 2 You have 14 days to change your mind after notifying the supplier that you want to switch. If you cancel the switch at this time you will stay with your current provider.
Step 3 Your switch is complete. Your account will have been transferred to your new provider and your old account will be closed. Following the switch, your previous provider will send you a final bill no later than six weeks after your switching date. Within 14 days from this point, any credit will be refunded.
Energy companies which sign up to the Energy Switch Guarantee promise that they complete the switch over in no later than 21 days - giving you peace of mind. All of the companies in our top 5 are a part of the guarantee. So Energy exceeded expectations in this category by carrying out 100% of its switches without problems in the 21 days. And the best part? All the paperwork will be done for you by the new supplier. No calling anyone or filling in any forms so all you have to do is enjoy cheaper prices and better service!
Who is the best energy supplier in the UK?
Although all of the energy companies on our list could be worthy winners, of course only one can take the crown as the best electricity company for customer service.
This supplier has proven that it is easy to get in touch with; sends its customers accurate bills; resolves complaints quickly and efficiently and can organise switches without any hassle.
We have voted So Energy the best energy supplier for customer service because we feel that overall it delivers on all its promises to customers.
So Energy is a London based, 100% green, independent energy supplier which began operating in 2015. Since then it has exceeded its customers' expectations and provided simple, honest and good value service. It has won the Money Facts Consumer Finance Awards in 2018 for best supplier and currently has 5 stars on Trustpilot.
Citizens Advice has also voted them number one in their 2018 comparison of energy suppliers. Simon Oscroft, director at So Energy, said: “We’re continually working hard to improve the service we provide and, even though we’ve come first, we know we can do better.”
They have their own price promise and aim to be in the cheapest 10% of suppliers in the UK so not only can you have your cake but you can eat it too - with 5-star customer service, green energy and rock-bottom prices.