Specialist firms lift standards of UK energy market

UK businesses are reaping the rewards of an extremely competitive energy market, with new market entrants and specialist small providers driving up standards and lowering costs, according to research from […]

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By Kelvin Ross

UK businesses are reaping the rewards of an extremely competitive energy market, with new market entrants and specialist small providers driving up standards and lowering costs, according to research from analysts at Datamonitor.

Datamonitor interviewed 2,000 major energy users and found that suppliers are using a variety of tactics to attract customers in the extremely competitive market. The study highlighted the ‘exceptional service’ of three companies: SmartestEnergy, Haven Power and Shell Gas Direct.

David Mayne, energy market analyst at Datamonitor, said: “Small suppliers have entered the market and have been able to set new benchmarks in service delivery by focusing on a small customer base and being able to react quickly to customer demands.

“As a result, small suppliers Smartestenergy and Haven Power achieved first and second place respectively for highest customer satisfaction in 2010. Gas specialist Shell Gas Direct has topped the rankings for highest customer satisfaction for a gas supplier since 2008.”

Mr Mayne said the success of smaller firms was having “a knock-on effect”.

“Larger, more established players are adamant that they are not going to be left behind, and are striving to improve their performance. SSE and EDF Energy, in third and fourth place in the rankings table, have shown that this is possible. This is only good news for the end user.

“In the face of the looming questions about energy security and environmental concerns, business customers should be reassured that their suppliers are doing their utmost to provide them with the services and propositions that they need to meet their energy needs,” added Mr Mayne.

SmartestEnergy’s retail vice-president Jo Butlin said the survey result was testimony to the company’s commitment to set new standards in customer service.

“We have invested heavily in the people, processes and systems to provide the strong foundations on which we can deliver the best possible service to our customers,” she explained.

“Our aim is simple: to provide customers with an open, transparent and best-in-class experience at every stage of their relationship with us from procurement and registration through to billing and account management.”

She added that SmartestEnergy strived to go “above and beyond” what was traditionally expected from electricity suppliers.

“For example we have developed user guides for our innovative e-billing service, along with ‘smart’ guides covering VAT and invoicing. All of these help the customer gain better understanding of the complexities of business electricity and further demonstrate our openness and transparency as a company.”