Ethical energy supplier Co-operative Energy has secured second place in the Which? customer response investigation league table, coming ahead of big six suppliers EDF (6), SSE (9), British Gas (12) and Npower (16).
The research, which looked at how long it takes energy companies’ customer service departments to answer calls, found that the average waiting time for Co-operative Energy customers when calling its customer service department was 39 seconds. The provider, which launched in May 2011 and has amassed 140,000 customers, was one of only four energy firms to respond to customer queries in under a minute.
Co-operative Energy has 130 dedicated customer services representatives across two sites in Warwick and Walsall and aims to answer 90 per cent of inbound customer calls in ten seconds. For the year to date a 91 per cent success rate on this target has been maintained.
Mandy Holford, Head of Operations at Co-operative Energy, commented: “This is great news for our team and also for our customers. To score so highly is extremely satisfying as we have worked very hard to ensure that Co-operative Energy customers are served very well.”
Energy companies receive 60 million phone calls a year to their customer service departments.
Which? carried out the investigation after consumers told them that they were fed up with waiting for their call to be answered, with three in ten (31%) saying that being left on hold for long periods before speaking to someone is one of their biggest bugbears when calling their energy provider’s customer service.
The investigation involved calling the 16 energy companies 12 times each at set times of the day to find out just how long customers could be left on hold. Details were recorded on how long it took between finishing dialling the customer service number to speaking to an adviser.
The research showed that on average, callers were left waiting on hold for anything between 21 seconds to 17 minutes and five seconds before contact with an advisor was made. The shortest waiting time recorded in one single call was four seconds and the longest waiting time recorded involved an excruciating wait of 29 minutes before getting through.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “It’s unacceptable that some energy suppliers are leaving their customers dangling on the phone for anything up to half an hour.
“If energy companies want to restore trust in the industry they must work harder to make people feel confident that customer service is a top priority, and stop putting sales over service.
“We’d like to see calls to customer service centres being picked up within two minutes.”