We have just launched our Star Ranking for suppliers. As with everything else we try to do, we have kept things simple and relevant. The ranking is displayed with every tariff and shows the likelihood of a supplier successfully processing an application, based on the supplier’s statistical track record. We will review and update these rankings periodically.
5 Stars: 95% or more of applications received are processed ok at the first go
4 Stars: 90-95% of applications received are processed ok
3 Stars: 85-90% of applications received are processed ok
2 Stars: 80-85% of applications received are processed ok
1 Star: Less than 80% of applications are procesed ok
No Star: We don’t know enough about this supplier to advise a ranking
Why does this matter?
What we have found is that suppliers who convert the applications that we send them generate fewer complaints in general. Other websites use surveys or different data to generate their rankings – which is fine – we think that a supplier’s conversion performance is an objective indicator of their processes in general.
Why do applications fail?
- Credit Checking: British Gas and E.ON are two suppliers that submit applications to Credit Referencing Agencies. If that comes back negative a switch will be rejected
- Outstanding Debt: If you are more than 30 days in arrears your current supplier can block the switch
- Missing information: The database of meter references that suppliers share is imperfect. A supplier may not be able to find your supply point
- Already on Supply: Sometimes suppliers ‘forget’ to clear their database when a customer switches away. When they come back years later, it can happen that they are rejected as ‘on supply’
- Customer change their mind: Yes, this happens
- Multiple applications: Sometimes customers apply twice. Only one switch can go through
- Technology changes: When suppliers install or upgrade a big Enterprise Management Software (like SAP) things invariably go wrong for a while. It is truly a rare event for a systems upgrade not to cause a customer service issue that is felt all the way down the chain
- Too many switches: Many suppliers seem to struggle during peak times, i.e. when prices change and customers switch. This really should not be the case but it is
Leaving aside factors that are down to customer behaviour or circumstances, supplier performance varies greatly when it comes to chasing up missing information, overcoming objections and generally being on top of their technology or processes. If you follow this blog you will have noted that npower, for example, struggled hugely in processing a very large number of customers back in November and December of 2012. The scars are still fresh!
What are we doing about it?
Everything possible! Over the years we have become very good at spotting problems at the suppliers. We chase suppliers on a daily basis to confirm that all sales have loaded ok – this is religion for us. If we are notified of any issues by either the supplier or the customer we always check whether the problem is isolated or generic. It is our policy to escalate any processing issues up the supplier ladder as soon as they are confirmed, to ensure that our customers are first in line for a fix.
What can you do about it?
- Better not apply more than once. It can get messy when multiple applications are sent to suppliers because applications are rarely processed real-time.
- Have your meter references ready if asked. This will certainly speed things up. Read more about it here.
- Consider our Star Rating. We have put them there to help you make a buying decision.