North East energy supplier tops national customer service league table
A small, family-run energy supplier from the North East of England has blown away the opposition after coming out top for customer service.
Breeze Energy based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne employs just 11 staff and supplies electricity and gas to 40,000 meters across the UK.
But the minnow of the energy supply market run by husband and wife team Kelly and Danny Hughes and fellow co-founder James Platania, who works out of the City of London, has topped the latest Citizens Advice league table for customer service with a near-perfect 4.8 star rating out of five.
The company launched just four years ago, was ranked third with a 4.45 rating in the same Citizens Advice survey in June this year, but has now jumped two places, knocking SSE – one of the UK’s big six energy suppliers – off the top spot.
Kelly Hughes said: “To top the Citizens Advice customer satisfaction survey is a phenomenal achievement. Citizens Advice is the official consumer watchdog for energy, and its customer service league table provides an impartial benchmark.
“We have come from virtually nowhere in the past year to topping the ratings, which is tantamount to the amazing team of people we have and our never-give-up attitude.
“Danny and I are great believers in what is often disparagingly described as ‘old fashioned customer service.’ We aim to answer the phones in less than a minute and you’ll get straight through to a customer service agent; no waiting in a queue or having to trawl your way through an automated menu system.
“Our customer service agents are well briefed and we don’t over-complicate things. As a busy working mother myself who has to juggle a lot of balls, we are building an energy company we know consumers want to deal with.
“We want our customers to feel valued, part of something exclusive, and that they have joined the Breeze Energy family.”
Citizens Advice’s latest energy star rating table showed a big gap between the best and the worst firms. Among the most common problems faced by customers of companies in the bottom rankings were billing issues, debt and disconnection problems, complications with prepayment meters, including credit refunds, and meter difficulties.
The star rating table - which is carried out every three months - is assessed on a wide range of customer service indicators, including the accuracy of bills, call waiting times and complaint handling.
Breeze Energy scored five stars for the fewest complaints, ease of contacting, clarity of its bills, including delivery time, and switches completed within 21 days, and three for its customer guarantees. Overall, Breeze Energy only had 2.3 complaints per 10,000 customers to third parties.
Citizens Advice’s top five energy supply firms based on customer service indicators were Breeze Energy, SSE with a 4.60 star rating, Igloo Energy with 4.40, So Energy with 4.40, and Engie with 4.25.
These latest results based on the period April-June 2019, included 39 suppliers with 99% market coverage.
Breeze Energy’s success comes at a difficult time for the supply market. Thirteen domestic energy supply companies have gone out of business since November 2018, with six having failed this year – affecting more than 300,000 consumers.
Unlike other energy suppliers on the market at the minute, however, Breeze Energy avoids attention-grabbing low tariffs with just the one fixed-rate electricity and gas price.
One of the recommendations made by Citizens Advice – which urges people to shop around carefully when looking for an energy supplier – is to compare companies’ customer service performance as well as prices.
Danny Hughes said: “We are after those customers who want to be looked after and receive personal service. We don’t always get it right, but we will always work our hardest to ensure we do as soon as possible.
“Exceptional customer service is at the core of our business, and Citizens Advice’s latest customer service league table is proof that after four years in the making, our ethos, desire for success and willingness to step up to the challenges thrown up by the industry, are paying off for both us and our customers.”