With their announcement this week of an annual loss of £99 million it comes as little surprise that Npower have been forced to “simplify” their operations. One impact is the axing of 2 400 jobs in the UK and overseas. In recent years Npower have closed multiple UK offices, transferred their customer service to contact centres in India and outsourced thousands of jobs. At the core of the problem has to be the astonishing fact that Npower has lost a staggering 360 000 customers in 2015 alone.
The energy sector is only becoming more competitive as nimbler independent companies – of which there are now 24 competing with the ‘Big 6’ – deliver lower tariffs as well as better customer experiences. New entrant, Ovo Energy, achieved the highest satisfaction score of 82% rated 4 out of 5 for their customer service in 2016 Which? energy satisfaction survey. Npower dragged their heels in last place with a 41% satisfaction rating. They’re more customer focused and adjust more quickly to the changing oil prices than the bigger companies.
Customer experience was acknowledged in the latest Gartner CEO report as the number 1 priority and a key driver for company profitability. It takes real commitment – which means investment – to be customer focused and provide a level of service to keep customers in an ever more competitive environment. But it takes even greater levels of investment to rebuild your brand and win back disgruntled customers.
Npower have announced a 2 year plan; to lower costs, simplify, increase the quality of customer service and billing systems and rationalise the number of systems in use. Time will tell if they can claw back what they have lost.