Energy bills: Octopus tops Which? survey with SSE and Scottish Power trailing behind amid calls for more customer support
Octopus Energy has topped a well-known annual customer survey, after winning over households with its customer service and value for money.
The supplier was named a Which? recommended provider for the sixth year in a row, with the consumer advocates calling for energy firms to do more to support customers in a cost of living crisis.
Which surveyed over 10,000 members of the public in October 2022, to rate the performance of suppliers since the energy crisis.
It also conducted an in-depth assessment of suppliers’ practices and procedures in three areas – how well they conduct customer service, how they deal with complaints and how they support customers in need.
The average customer score was 54 per cent this year – lower than it was in January 2022 (59 per cent) and 2021 (64 per cent).
Octopus Energy came top with a combined score of 78 per cent – reflecting both the customer survey and Which’s assessment of suppliers’ practices .
It was the only provider to receive the Which recommendation in this year’s survey.
Octopus was also the only provider to receive a five-star rating in any category – with customers awarding five stars for usefulness of information about energy costs.
It received a four-star rating for every other category.
The energy firm’s customers were most likely to recommend their supplier – with nearly nine in ten (87 per cent) saying they would recommend it.
Octopus chief executive Greg Jackson told City A.M.: “Octopus has always been determined to put customers first. No company is perfect, but this survey helps highlight the importance of looking after customers and we’ll continue striving to do all we can.
“From providing electric blankets to help our most vulnerable customers, to paying customers to help National Grid avoid blackouts, we’re determined to lead the way in making the sector better.”
Utilita came in second place with a combined score of 67 per cent.
However, it ranked much higher in Which’s assessment of supplier practices (75 per cent) than in the customer survey (59 per cent).
Scottish Power and SSE lag behind Octopus
At the other end of the scale, Scottish Power came at the bottom of the Which’s assessment of supplier practices with a score of 53 per cent.
However, it received just three points for its complaints performance.
Shell Energy and SSE Energy Services came bottom of the customer survey with overall scores of 48 and 46 per cent respectively.
This included Shell Energy which received just one star for value for money in the survey and its customers were least likely to recommend it to others.
Just under half (47 per cent) of Shell customers said they would recommend the firm – compared to an average six in 10 (61 per cent) across all firms.
Meanwhile, SSE Energy Services only got one star for three of the aspects in Which’s customer satisfaction survey, including the clarity of its communication about the energy market.
Over half (54 per cent) of SSE Energy Services customers complained about an issue with their bill.
Firms need to do more as energy crisis bites
Which recently launched a cost of living campaign calling on essential businesses – including energy firms – to do more to support their customers through the cost of living crisis.
In particular, it argued energy firms should ensure that their customer service is running as smoothly as possible.
With more people likely to be needing to get in touch with their provider during the cost of living crisis, Which argued consumers should not be left struggling to seek support or have their issue resolved.
It also called on firms to ensure customers on prepayment meters – who are more likely to be vulnerable and on lower incomes – are able to access government support, and prioritise them in their smart meter roll-outs where appropriate.
Rocio Concha, Which’s director of policy and advocacy, said: “While customers are choosing to stay put due to a lack of deals in the energy market, our research has found that some firms are falling far short of meeting their customers’ needs during the cost of living crisis.
“Providers must make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch and seek support when they need it – or customers will vote with their feet and switch away when this becomes an option.”