Best energy providers for customer service

Last updated: 11 March 2022   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Customer service can be the deal-breaker when choosing an energy provider, although performance varies depending on the data we look at.

Winner Rating
M&S Energy Gold star Gold star Gold star Gold star
Octopus Energy Gold star Gold star Gold star Gold star
Utility Warehouse Gold star Gold star Gold star

M&S Energy are our top choice for customer service thanks to their high performance across several categories.

We've chosen Octopus Energy as our runner-up due to their low complaints figures and positive statistics in several other areas.

Ultimately, while many of the biggest providers have average customer service records, it's the smaller suppliers who are really excelling in this area.

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Which energy supplier offers the best customer service?

There are two main sources for customer satisfaction data available: Citizens Advice data which uses information supplied by several parties and Ofgem's official quarterly complaint figures which allow us to see trends in complaints.

Overall, M&S Energy and Utility Warehouse win in those two categories, but let's take a closer look at the detail behind the ratings.

Overall rankings

Winner: M&S Energy

The top suppliers in the Citizens Advice rankings for July to September 2021 look like this:

Rank Supplier Overall rating (out of 5)
1 M&S Energy 3.95
2 Octopus Energy 3.95
3 EDF Energy 3.85
4 Co-operative Energy 3.75
5 Outfox the Market 3.75

Customer service from three of the top five (M&S Energy, Co-op Energy and Octopus Energy) is provided by Octopus, so it looks as though their service is stellar across the board.

EDF is the biggest name among the top five, although the company that came top the last time we looked at energy customer service, Igloo Energy, collapsed in September 2021.

Meanwhile, the bottom of the tables looks like this:

Rank Supplier Overall rating (out of 5)
17 British Gas 2.65
18 Boost Power 2.56
19 E.ON Energy 2.4
20 OVO Energy 2.35
21 Ecotricity 2.1

Three of the biggest names in UK energy are ranked poorly for customer service - British Gas, E.ON and OVO.

However, the supplier ranked most poorly is green specialist Ecotricity. They scored well in some categories but had more complaints and were more difficult to get in contact with.


Winner: EDF Energy

We can also look more closely at which energy providers are sending customers accurate bills, an important part of customer satisfaction.

Just four providers received the maximum score from Citizens Advice for clearer billing, with the following figures for accurate billing:

Rank Supplier Customers who had an accurate bill at least once a year
1 EDF Energy 98.5%
2 Outfox the Market 98.1%
3 Bulb Energy 98.3%
4 So Energy 98%

It should be noted that several suppliers achieved 100% accuracy the last time we looked at these figures, but Nabuh Energy has since been acquired by British Gas and Green collapsed in September 2021.

On the lower end of the table (disregarding those without enough information to determine scores), we have two providers with scores below average:

Rank Supplier Customers who had an accurate bill at least once a year
20 British Gas 89.4%
21 Utilita 86.4%

Again, British Gas is ranked as one of the poorest in this category, with more than 10% of their customers failing to get an accurate bill at least once a year.

Given that British Gas is the largest energy supplier in the UK with a 27.5% share of the gas market and a 19.3% share of the electricity market, that's a lot of customers who aren't receiving an accurate bill each year.

Contact time

Winner: Scottish Power

One final metric we can look at via the Citizens Advice quarterly data is a supplier's rating for ease of contact. As well as providing an overall score, Citizens Advice also provide details of how long it takes a supplier to answer the phone and how many emails they respond to within two days.

Here are the top five:

Rank Supplier Average call centre wait time Emails responded to within 2 days Overall rating for contact (out of 5)
1 Scottish Power 2 mins 14 secs 96.9% 3.8
2 EDF Energy 4 mins 35 secs 98.3% 3.2
3 M&S Energy 1 min 46 secs 79.6% 3
4 So Energy 1 min 42 secs 61.6% 3
5 Affect Energy 2 mins 29 secs 69.2% 3

Scottish Power has the best ranking overall, although many providers have scores below average - including some of the other big names.

Here is the bottom five:

Rank Supplier Average call centre wait time Emails responded to within 2 days Overall rating for contact
17 E.ON Energy 5 mins 23 secs 65.5% 1.8
18 Ecotricity 9 mins 4 secs 53.8% 1.4
19 Utility Warehouse 12 mins 20 secs 47.1% 1.4
20 SSE 8 mins 7 secs 14.4% 1
21 OVO Energy 6 mins 5 secs 6.6% 1

Since SSE is owned by OVO Energy, it's clear there's a problem with customer communication there, and they have particularly low email response rates which can be frustrating for customers.

Overall, waiting times have gone up hugely over the last year. Whereas some firms were previously answering within seconds, now several minutes is the best option and, as Utility Warehouse figures show, it can sometimes be much longer than that.

Which energy supplier has the fewest complaints?

Complaint figures submitted to Ofgem can help us see which providers are receiving more complaints than their rivals. This can be an indication of how well a provider is performing and, consequently, how happy their customers are.

First, we'll look at Ofgem's quarterly complaint figures and then data from the Ombudsman Service covering major suppliers.

Ofgem complaint figures

Winner: Utility Warehouse

Ofgem release quarterly figures showing how many complaints energy suppliers have received per 100,000 customers.

Here are the complaint figures for suppliers classed as either large or medium sized for Q4 2021 from least complained about to most complained about:

Supplier No. of complaints per 100,000 customers
Utility Warehouse 511
Octopus Energy 593
Utilita 607
E.ON Energy 669
Shell Energy 692
Bulb 941
EDF Energy 1,400
British Gas 1,433
Scottish Power 1,594
OVO Energy 3,260

Again, we can see significant problems at OVO and they have double the number of complaints to second placed Scottish Power.

Smaller companies continue to dominate the top of the table, with Utility Warehouse, Octopus Energy and Utilita posting low figures in comparison to their rivals.

It's worth pausing to look at complaint trends over the past few years. Note: Bulb, Octopus Energy and OVO Energy change from being classed as medium-sized suppliers to large suppliers in the following graphs (and the scales are slightly different too).

These are the complaint trends for larger energy providers:

ofgem energy complaints large suppliers

And these are the trends for medium-sized suppliers:

ofgem energy complaints medium suppliers

There are a few interesting things to note here:

  • The trend for OVO is worrying and their complaints are on a steady upward trajectory
  • Bulb went from being one of the least complained about medium-sized providers to being one of the most complained about large providers before bringing their levels down again in 2021
  • Octopus Energy complaint levels have remained at similar levels throughout their reclassification as a large supplier
  • Avro Energy were one of the least complained about providers before their collapse in September 2021
  • Utilita had some historical issues in 2017 but these figures have been brought down

The main takeaway is that several medium-sized suppliers have a better track record for low complaint levels than their larger counterparts, although Octopus and E.ON are challenging that narrative.

Ombudsman data

Winner: Utility Warehouse

If complaints aren't resolved successfully by energy providers, customers can take their complaint to the Ombudsman Service - there's more information about that process in this guide.

The Ombudsman provides supplier-level data for seven large and medium suppliers During Q3 2021, they received the following numbers of complaints for those providers:

Supplier Complaints accepted
Utility Warehouse 132
Shell Energy 460
EDF Energy 1,170
British Gas 2,292
E.ON Energy 2,596
Scottish Power 2,636
OVO Energy 2,801

It makes sense that Utility Warehouse, having a low level of complaints as we saw in the section above, have the fewest complaints escalated to the Ombudsman.

OVO had more complaints advanced to the Ombudsman Service than any other provider, a situation that might get worse in future figures as their complaint levels continue to rise.

Since customers must wait at least eight weeks before escalating a complain, these figures can run a little behind what's currently going on.

Other ways of checking customer satisfaction

As well as the data covered above, there are other ways to gauge customer service and customer satisfaction, although they may be more indicative than rooted in facts and figures.

Let's take a look at some of them.


Winner: M&S Energy

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) takes a closer look at satisfaction across 13 different sectors. One of these is Utilities, which includes 13 energy companies as well as water companies.

Their January 2022 update includes two energy providers in the top 50 - M&S Energy and Octopus Energy. As we've mentioned, these providers share customer service, so it's unsurprising they are both in the rankings.

M&S Energy came in at 13 with an overall rating of 84.1 while Octopus Energy ranked 32nd with a rating of 83.3.

M&S Energy were highlighted by UKCSI as performing well in the complaint handling, customer ethos and ethics dimensions. They were also named as the most improved organisation, increasing their score by 12.9 points compared to the previous year.

Although they didn't make the top 50, The Co-operative Energy (also owned by Octopus) and Utilita also ranked among the most improved organisations with score increases of 10.5 and 9.4 respectively.


Winner: M&S Energy

Customer review site Trustpilot ranks energy suppliers using their TrustScore rating system. Here's how their rankings look for domestic suppliers:

Rank Energy supplier TrustScore (out of 5) No. of reviews
1 M&S Energy 4.9 3,700+
2 London Power 4.9 250+
3 Octopus Energy 4.8 89,000+
4 Co-op Energy 4.7 4,600+
5 4.6 1,500+
6 Sainsbury's Energy 4.6 1,500+
7 Bulb 4.5 76,000+
8 Boost Energy 4.5 17,000+
9 Good Energy 4.5 5,600+
10 Utilita 4.4 47,000+

One of the most interesting things to note here is the base energy and customer service supplier of the top four companies in these rankings is the same - Octopus Energy.

While the number of reviews for each provider is vastly different, the overall customer experience seems to be the same within a few points.

The only other big name in the top 10 is Bulb. They have more reviews than other providers with 86% of customers rating them as Excellent.

If we look at Ofgem's eight large energy suppliers, here's how they compare to each other:

Supplier Trustscore (out of 5) No. of reviews % Excellent % Bad
Octopus Energy 4.8 89,000+ 89% 3%
Bulb 4.5 76,000+ 86% 5%
OVO Energy 4.3 54,000+ 71% 8%
E.ON 4.3 19,000+ 74% 11%
Shell Energy 4.2 57,000+ 51% 14%
EDF Energy 4.1 28,000+ 71% 17%
Scottish Power 3.7 40,000+ 46% 24%
British Gas 3.1 87,000+ 42% 32%

Reviews on Trustpilot shouldn't be taken as representative examples of how a company performs and what their customer service is like as such sites attract customers who are either very happy with a company or very disgruntled.

Yet, even considering the fact that providers like Octopus and Bulb solicit reviews from their customers, the distance between the UK's largest energy supplier British Gas and their younger rivals is stark.


Winner: British Gas

YouGov update their rankings of the most popular energy companies every quarter.

To give a positive opinion of a company, a respondent doesn't have to be a customer, so these rankings are indicative of how people think about different energy companies rather than a direct analysis of their customer service.

Here are the top 10 as of Q4 2021:

Rank Energy supplier Popularity Fame (% aware of them)
1 British Gas 36% 98%
2 E.ON 33% 91%
3 Green Energy UK 31% 54%
4 Octopus Energy 29% 77%
5 SSE 26% 88%
6 Scottish Power 25% 84%
7 EDF Energy 24% 84%
8 The Co-operative Energy 21% 51%
9 OVO Energy 18% 62%
10 Sainsbury's Energy 17% 58%

These rankings show a few interesting things, primarily that energy companies don't seem all that popular with YouGov's survey respondents.

Although 98% of respondents were familiar with British Gas, only 36% had a favourable opinion of them. For E.ON, the figures were even worse - 91% awareness and only 33% popularity.

With Green Energy UK, a 100% green gas and electricity supplier ranked as one of the greenest in the UK, we'd hazard a guess their high popularity rating comes from their climate-friendly name rather than true knowledge and appreciation of their services.

Social media sentiment

Winner: Octopus Energy

One final customer satisfaction measurement to mention is the social media sentiment data analysed by wordnerds in late 2020.

This research might be a little out of date now (indeed, nPower no longer exists as a separate entity), but it's a unique piece of research so it's still worth highlighting.

The company examined tweets about 10 energy companies to create a rating out of 100 based on whether their social media sentiment was Very Positive, Positive, Neutral, Negative or Very Negative. Here's how the companies ranked:

Rank Energy supplier Rating (out of 100)
1 Octopus Energy 53
2 Bulb 51
3 EDF Energy 50
4 OVO Energy 50
5 Scottish Power 48
6 SSE 48
7 nPower 47
8 E.ON 47
9 British Gas 45
10 Shell Energy 45

As we can see, Octopus are top of the rankings here as well, although there isn't that much distance between all the providers.

Shell ranked last based on slightly more negative sentiment than British Gas.

Analysis like this is useful because it looks at more qualitative data and gives us an insight into how energy customers are communicating with their suppliers and what they're saying about them.

Verdict: who's best for energy customer service?

Depending on which metric and data you focus on, the best energy supplier for customer service varies, with names like Octopus Energy, Utility Warehouse, EDF Energy and M&S Energy popping up through the data with some positive figures.

Big name providers like British Gas and OVO Energy perform poorly on review sites like Trustpilot and have poor metrics in other areas.

Arguably, these bigger names with larger market shares are more likely to receive public criticism, and OVO's customer service metrics have certainly fallen since their acquisition of SSE in 2020.

Yet Octopus Energy battle against the trend - the companies they provide energy and service for are some of the highest rated around.

It's hard to pick our winner, but we think M&S Energy deserve the top spot because:

  • They rank top in Citizens Advice overall rankings
  • Their customer contact statistics were also positive
  • They were named by the UKCSI as the most improved organisation of the year as well as ranking among the best companies in three separate areas
  • Their Trustpilot reviews rank them as the best domestic energy supplier

It's clear that M&S Energy customers are experiencing quality service alongside customers of other companies under the Octopus Energy umbrella.

With the ongoing energy crisis removing some suppliers who had previously ranking highly in our reports such as Avro Energy, Igloo Energy and Zebra Power, it's going to be important for the bigger names to step up and demonstrate their customer service credentials.

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