White label energy suppliers cannot hide the issues at their partner companies

Share |

24 January 2014, Gas, Electricity

oilandgasobserver archive

The fact that customer scores have decreased in a similar fashion suggests that problems being encountered at the traditional energy retailers - such as billing issues, customer service functions underperforming, or reactions to price increases - are translating directly to customers of the partner brands despite customers not always being fully aware they are effectively being supplied by a Big Six company.

However, Sainsbury's Energy and M&S Energy remain 6% and 10% higher rated than their partner companies in 2014. Some have pointed to the brand image having an effect - the media doesn't pour scorn on Sainsbury's and M&S every winter, for example - but this doesn't explain it all. It is rather the tangible benefits customers receive by being customers of the white label suppliers rather than their Big Six counterparts. M&S offers vouchers to customers who sign up, while Sainsbury's not only offers Nectar points, but in certain branches provides access to instore experts to help with any energy-related questions or issues.

So, will suppliers try and emulate the white label suppliers to increase customer satisfaction? The option of including vouchers and third party loyalty points in energy deals is probably a thing of the past under Ofgem's Retail Market Review, and Sainsbury's customers are only marginally happier than their British Gas counterparts even with face-to-face contact, so it is hard to see these examples being attractive. In fact, E.ON has announced the closure of its "store" in Nottingham, showing that customers are not responding to the opportunity to interact with their energy supplier face-to-face.

The Big Six energy suppliers will therefore have to look for alternative methods than those being tried by white label partners to increase customer satisfaction.

www.datamonitorenergy.com / asken@datamonitor.com / @DatamonitorEN

Source: MarketLine

More Gas Commentary

More Electricity Commentary

Recent commentary