Since privatisation, a few large suppliers have dominated the UK’s energy market.
Their reliance on legacy systems and traditional Customer Experience methods – gargantuan call centres which pass you around from siloed team to siloed team, complex bureaucracy, and bloated out-of-date technology – left customers feeling exhausted by the prospect of having to get in touch.
TrustPilot ratings bottomed out through a perceived lack of customer care.
Octopus Energy was set up to be different. We’re a digital business that supplies energy – run by a team of e-commerce and Customer Experience specialists who saw what technology could do in other industries, and were convinced those gains could be made in energy. Perhaps the dominant market players were just too unwieldy or unwilling to evolve.
We started by building our own technology – creating a global-leading billing and CRM platform to totally revolutionise how we could service our customers. This platform gives us three big advantages: we are flexible, meaning we can change almost any aspect of what we do with minimal effort; we can innovate, embedding new features and enhancements quickly; and perhaps most importantly, we are efficient and can pass on those efficiency savings to customers.
Our efficient, tech-led business model allows us to service customers brilliantly, but with a small team. Each energy specialist handles many more customers than the industry standard – with a fast, friendly, and personal service.
They’re measured on customer happiness, not response times or volume, and, critically, are trained to answer all customer queries first time – we don’t pass the customer around to get to the right person.
And if we do get something wrong (we’re not claiming we’re perfect), we get instantaneous feedback; every customer who contacts us is then emailed and asked to vote on how they’re feeling after that contact, giving us a happy, indifferent, or sad face.
All sad faces are fed back into the team for review and action. What’s more, every single customer who signs up with us is given our CEO’s direct email address and encouraged to get in touch. And he replies to every single one.
Call wait times average around 90 seconds. Our emails and social media responses average around four hours. Customer satisfaction, or CHI (Customer Happiness Index), is 85 percent (over the last 11,000 responses). We consistently lead TrustPilot rankings with a score of 9.7, while the Big Six languish between 0.3 (ScottishPower) and 5.0 (British Gas).
All this while saving customers £675,945,127 – over half a billion pounds – against Big Six standard variable tariffs (figure based on usage estimates provided by customers when signing up).
Switching is a breeze with just three steps – our fastest sign-up being a nifty 31 seconds. Customers get monthly meter reading reminders by email, which they can return without logging in. They can even scan and send a reading with their smartphone.
Critically, we’ve made the site and app accessible to everyone, no matter their circumstances. Using Home Office guidance we’ve made our website and app even easier to use for those with visual impairment, dyslexia, or motor difficulties, or for screen reader users and those on the autism spectrum. Customers can also choose white or black email backgrounds to improve readability.
But perhaps our biggest technological achievement is Octopus Tracker – the UK’s first variable tariff to track the wholesale price daily, with a fully transparent breakdown of energy charges (including our margin).
Most variable tariffs are painfully slow to reflect wholesale changes. They also contain a hedging “premium” to insure against rises, and are often overpriced to subsidise customer acquisition on cheaper fixed deals.
Tracker solves these problems by changing daily according to publicly available data – giving customers a verifiably fair, transparent, and truly variable tariff.
Our passion for customers knows no bounds. Over the last year we’ve exposed “tease and squeeze” pricing through our work with the BBC’s Money Box program, consulted with Ofgem to request instantaneous switching, backed the government’s proposals for a relative price cap, and released the UK’s fairest and most transparent energy tariff (Octopus Tracker).
Our CEO and founder has appeared on BBC News, Sky News, Radio 4, Radio 5, Parliament TV, Ofgem events, and our work has appeared in national newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, and The Sun.
All of our work improving customers lives is underpinned by our mission to bring greener energy to all. Backed by the UK’s largest investor in solar farms, we’ve contracted seven solar farms and six anaerobic digestion sites to ensure our green tariff customers get 100 percent renewable energy 24-7.
Our sites generate so much renewable energy that last year we supplied non-green customers with over 68.9 percent renewable generation, too (that’s the carbon reduction equivalent of planting 140 trees for every customer).
A great first step towards the UK’s sustainability targets, and our own vision for a low-carbon, customer-centric future for energy in the UK.