All big six energy suppliers finished in the bottom third of the annual Which? satisfaction survey, the results released today (21 January) reveal.
In total 8,000 people across the UK were surveyed about their provider.
Topping the list with a satisfaction rating of 80 per cent was Octopus Energy.
British Gas, EDF, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE all failed to receive an overall customer score higher than 58 per cent, over 20 per cent lower than Octopus.
SSE was the highest-ranked big six supplier – and the only one to receive four-star ratings for its customer service online and on the phone.
In response to the findings, Tony Keeling, chief operating officer and co-head of retail at SSE Energy Services, said: “At SSE we take our commitment to excellent customer service seriously and it’s welcome to see we’re the only major energy supplier to receive four stars for our service both online and over the phone.
“However, it’s important to remember suppliers’ performance is measured in many different ways.
“We’re proud to be named best major supplier and second overall for customer service by consumer champions, Citizens Advice, beating many large and small providers.
“However, we know there’s always room for improvement and that’s why our team constantly looks for new ways to improve the service we offer our customers.”
Npower and Scottish Power were joint lowest ranked of the big six and were the only two of the largest suppliers to receive two-star ratings for their complaints handling.
British Gas, which was ranked 26th, would have been in joint position with Extra Energy – a supplier which ceased trading last year.
Which? found less than one in five (18 per cent) big six customers are very satisfied with their supplier, compared with a third (33 per cent) of customers with medium and small suppliers.
In response to the findings, an EDF spokesperson told Utility Week: “EDF Energy works hard to provide customers with the highest standard of customer service and has invested significantly in improving customer service and complaints handling in recent years.
“As a result, we have significantly reduced the number of complaints we receive and have consistently scored well in other measures of service.
“We currently score 3.95 out of five stars in the Citizens Advice Energy Supplier Rating, and have been awarded gold in the Energy UK’s Billing Code Audit for the fourth year in a row.
“We know there will always be more that we can do, and will review the Which? report in detail.”
Octopus, which supplies more than 400,000 homes, was rated as good or excellent value for money by nine in ten customers and 96 per cent of its customers gave it the same rating for online customer service.
In response to the findings Octopus’ chief executive, Greg Jackson, said: “As the only significant energy retailer to have built a 21st century digital platform, we’ve engineered Octopus from front to back to put customers first.
“Investing in disruptive technology is designed to not only provide outstanding service, but also pave the way to the smart energy system we all need.
“We’re particularly excited that during this period we absorbed almost 100,000 supplier of last resort (SoLR) customers from some of the most poorly rated suppliers, launched M&S’s new energy business, and introduced ground-breaking innovations including the agile tariff and a partnership with Silicon Valley’s IFTTT.”
Spark was taken over by Ovo Energy, which has retained the Spark Energy brand.
Economy Energy and Extra Energy are no longer trading so are not included in the Which? results.
Economy Energy, which ceased trading earlier this month, would have been in 29th position.
Small supplier, Solarplicity, rated for the first time in the Which? survey, was the worst energy firm according to its customers, with an overall customer score of just 44 per cent.
It was the only provider to receive one-star ratings, including for customer service, both online and on the phone.
Additionally, three quarters of its customers told Which? that it is poor or very poor at dealing with complaints.
In May last year the Hertfordshire-based company issued an apology on its website for the drop in customer service standards.
The letter, written by chief executive David Elbourne, cited a project to upgrade the company’s IT systems in preparation for the smart meter rollout as being the reason why customer service standards dropped “below expectations”.
Responding to the publication of the energy survey, Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee, said: “The Which? survey highlights once again that the big six are miserably failing their customers. Having ripped off loyal customers on SVTs [standard variable tariffs] for far too long, this survey shows that they aren’t delivering a service which is up-to-scratch either.
“Customers should continue to shop around because they cannot rely on energy suppliers giving consumers a good deal or delivering the quality customer service which they deserve.”
Matthew Vickers, chief executive and chief ombudsman at the Energy Ombudsman, added:“In 2019, no energy supplier can expect to retain customers or achieve sustainable growth without providing good customer service.
“Good service includes having an effective complaint-handling process so that, when things do go wrong, they are put right quickly.
“What it comes down to is trust. If consumers trust you, that’s invaluable.
“Price can attract new customers but it’s good service that will retain them.”
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “Our survey shows the importance of value for money and good customer service – energy suppliers delivering both to their customers tend to be thriving, while the big six and other poorly-ranked firms are paying the price for not giving customers what they want.
“All energy companies should be working to give their customers competitive prices and excellent customer service. If you’re not getting a good deal, you should look to switch, as you could potentially save over a hundred pounds and get a much improved service.”