After the inclusion of the BBC’s Watchdog programme, and a separate Ofgem investigation, Spark Energy has been fined £250,000 for failing to handle customer complaints well enough.
Spark Energy looks to be taking the intervention by the energy regulatory board positively, viewing this as an opportunity to fundamentally change the way they do business and a chance to re-build the customer satisfaction and loyalty they would like. Since the company’s creation in 2007, and chiefly between 2010 and 2013, the company dealt with fewer than 30% of their customer complaints within the industry average of 24hrs.
This figure has now been improved to 90%, and a Spark Energy spokesperson commented that the Ofgem investigation allowed Spark to identify the weaker areas of the business and gave them an excellent platform from which to improve. They also issued an apology on behalf of the company for their ill treatment of customers who needed an honest, faster acting energy supplier. Spark has said that Ofgem pointing out the flaws in their business models has allowed them to identify several key weaknesses. To combat these, they have increased their customer care team from 60 to 120, have completely changed the training and resources available to the customer team and have appointed a new CEO to oversee the changing company.
In an environment in which there is a general distrust and dislike for the energy companies not passing on savings and performing as expected, these fines and media spotlights could be a real problem for Spark. In the next few months customers and regulators will likely be watching Spark Energy with great interest, to see if they can improve their service. Another negative report from Ofgem or more negative coverage from the media could spell trouble for Spark Energy.