Why do customer service phone calls take so long?

By Energy Company Numbers on December 17, 2016 in Help and advice

If you have called one of your utility providers recently – whether they be your energy supplier, or your broadband provider – you may have been on the phone for a long time. But why is this?

The reason why some customer service phone calls take so long, is because some companies have not employed enough people to answer the phone. Or, they have employed enough people, but they have assigned more workers to one department than another. The latter point is common, and as you might expect, most companies assign the bulk of their workers to the sales department, so that they can generate revenue and increase their customer numbers.

The problem utility companies face is that employing people in the United Kingdom costs a lot of money – money they would rather save as cash in the bank. To get around this, utility companies started to employ people overseas so answer their calls. Places like India and South Africa were a favourite source. However, in recent years there has been an enormous backlash over this practice. Customers got angry so utility companies responded by bringing their customer service ‘back to Britain’. The reality however is that for every 1,000 jobs they outsourced abroad, they only brought 10-20 per cent of that workforce back to the UK. So, this has created a huge surplus of workers, and empty customer service call centres.

The way around this – for the customer – is to ensure that you only take out products and services with companies that have an outstanding customer service record. In the energy market, such companies are few and far between. However, there are some energy suppliers that do have good customer service, which we will list now:

– Utilita
– Ovo Energy
– Ecotricity
– Good Energy
– Opus Energy (business only)
– First Utility

There are others, but we’re merely making the point that there are energy companies and suppliers out there who do answer the phone in good time. Utilita, for example, process most phone calls in under 5 minutes as do Ovo Energy. These suppliers also offer alternative ways to contact them, unlike the ‘big six’, whose phone calls can take over 10 minutes to process.

The best way to find out if an energy supplier has good customer service, is by visiting review aggregator websites such as Trustpilot, and by reviewing Which? data. Which? review energy suppliers every year and publish customer feedback. Here’s a snapshot of the 2016 survey:


The full survey can be found here: http://switch.which.co.uk/energy-suppliers/energy-companies-rated.html.

We recommend that you review the customer service performance of each energy supplier you are interested in.

About the Author

Energy Company NumbersView all posts by Energy Company Numbers
Energy Company Numbers is a telephone number directory service dedicated to helping UK consumers keep in touch with their energy suppliers.


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