SCOTTISHPOWER has topped a table of the worst call centres in terms of customer service – ranking low for its phone system, staff knowledge and speed of answering calls.
In a table of the best and worst companies for customer service, the energy giant was given a score of just one star, with BT and Talk Talk also receiving the lowest rating.
The report from consumer organisation Which? surveyed its members and found that almost half of callers to broadband companies were left hanging on for more than five minutes before their call was answered, while around one in ten felt the person they spoke to at their energy provider had poor or very poor product knowledge.
One in five ScottishPower electricity customers had spent more than 20 minutes waiting for an answer in the past six months, while mystery shoppers from Which? discovered that the typical wait time to speak to a call handler at the firm was 20 minutes.
The ranking is the latest in a string of blows to ScottishPower over its customer service during the past year. The report said: “Unless you relish the sound of hold music piped through a hot earpiece for long periods of time, don’t call ScottishPower.”
Other energy companies also scored badly, with 18 per cent of Npower’s electricity customers saying they thought staff knowledge of its products and services was poor or very poor. In contrast, Ovo Energy, NFU Mutual, Zen Internet and First Direct all scored five stars across the board.
The reason for customers’ calls differed widely by sector: while almost half of contact from broadband customers was to report a fault or make a complaint, the majority of callers to energy providers wanted to query a bill or change contract.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Unfortunately, poor customer service from call centres has become a 21st-century bugbear for too many people.
“Customers should vote with their feet if they’re tired of waiting or fed up with the service they get.”
He added: “We want the worst offenders in our survey to raise their game by answering the phone quicker and improving staff training to demonstrate they really value their customers’ time.”
Almost all of the Which? members surveyed – 90 per cent – said they would prefer call centres to be located within the UK.
A spokesman for ScottishPower said it had recruited extra customer service staff and invested in a new £200 million IT system.
However, a report from Citizens Advice revealed last week that the Perth-based firm had received the highest number of complaints ever generated by a UK energy company in a quarter, at the end of last year. It was also banned from proactive sales for 12 days in March after failing to meet customer service targets set by regulator Ofgem.
“We sincerely apologise to those who have experienced difficulties and may not have received the service expected,” said the ScottishPower spokesman.