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75% of energy suppliers miss Ofgem call-time targets - Scottish Power shamed for 30-minute waits, says watchdog

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By John McCarthy | Media editor

December 16, 2014 | 4 min read

Only four UK energy suppliers hit Ofgem targets of answering customer service calls in less than two minutes in October, according to research from consumer watchdog Which?.

Energy suppliers favoured sales over customer services

The report saw investigators call 16 suppliers’ customer service lines 12 times to discover how long customers were left on hold. They contrasted the wait with that for suppliers’ sales lines.

Which? widely found that energy firms greatly prioritised attracting new customers over aiding existing ones.

Of the 16 suppliers, 11 were faster to answer their sales calls than the customer services. Furthermore, ten suppliers failed to hit the average waiting time of two minutes set by energy watchdog Ofgem.

Ebico was the fastest firm to answer customer service calls, ranking at an average of 30 seconds. Good Energy, the Co-operative Energy, and the Utility Warehouse also failed to hit the two-minute target.

The remaining 12 firms including SSE, Eon, Scottish power and British Gas also missed targets.

Scottish Power performed the poorest with the average wait clocking in at 30 minutes. In stark contrast, sales calls had customers waiting only 49 seconds. The firm told Which? that a new IT system was responsible for the wait.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: “It’s unacceptable that some energy suppliers expect their customers to wait on the phone for so long just to ask a question, give meter readings or complain. With average waiting times of up to half an hour, it is clear some suppliers need to do more for their customers.

“Our research shows only a quarter of us trust our gas and electricity supplier which is why we need major reforms to ‘Fix the Big Six’. Suppliers must act rapidly to improve basic standards in customer service and not wait for the outcome of the competition inquiry.”

Les Cooper, head of utilities at Aspect Software, said: “The industry is falling severely short of expectations in one major area: the overall customer experience.

“If your business cannot provide the best customer experience possible, those customers will simply move on to another provider who can satisfy their needs.

“Through quick and efficient communication, combined with the application of successful technologies, customer effort can be reduced. This will instill greater loyalty and a higher satisfaction level and mean there will be fewer customer queries and complaints.”

Scottish Power faces a sales ban from Ofgem if it does not reduce the waiting times by January 2015.

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