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24 May 2019

The best energy firms for online service

Fed up of long waits on the phone? Try online instead

Energy companies are ramping up digital services - think email, live chat, Facebook Messenger and Twitter. Happy customers report quick responses and resolutions, provided they're with one of the best firms for online customer service, which we reveal below.

The best firms provide a range of options to contact them online, so you can pick the one that suits you best. Plus, when you contact them, they reply quickly and resolve your query.

The Big Six energy firms provide services on social media and generally respond quickly on live chat. But they fall down when customers rate their online service overall.

We've crunched the data from our annual energy companies satisfaction survey and our undercover research into how fast companies respond to customers online.

Don't put up with a poor service online; use our results to help you find the right firm for you. We also tell you which companies to avoid.

Suspect you're paying too much for energy? Compare gas and electricity prices to see if you could save money.

Online customer service: which energy company is right for you?

We've compiled a table of the companies whose customers rated them best for online service in our 2019 energy companies satisfaction survey.

Hone in on the best company for you by checking the various online customer service channels they offer.

More about our results

It took companies one day, 23 hours and 11 minutes to respond to customer emails on average, in our snapshot investigation.

Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy, So Energy and Tonik Energy were all faster than this.

However, Ecotricity took more than 10 days on average to respond. You wouldn't expect an instant response from an email, but 10 days was the second-slowest we found among the companies we investigated.

Green Network Energy was the slowest to respond to emails - it took 11 days, 2 hours and 54 minutes, on average.

The average response time for live chat across all companies included was 1 minute, 4 seconds. Both Bulb and Utilita were slower than this, though not by much.

Besides social media, both Tonik Energy and Utilita provide a 'virtual assistant'.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant will provide an automated response to a query you type in. It might show you FAQs related to keywords in your question to help you find an answer.

Some are more advanced and reply with set responses to common questions. These are called chatbots. They're not the same as live chat as there's no real person replying.

Online service from British Gas and the rest of the Big Six

The biggest energy firms provide customer support across a range of social media and all offer live chat. SSE additionally provides an online form, if you'd rather send a message and don't need an immediate answer.

When we asked the Big Six firms' customers to rate their online customer service, only one firm scored more than three out of five stars. This was SSE, which scored four stars.

This rating covers more than live chat and email. We asked customers to think about their whole online experience, including the website and any digital communications.

Energy companies with online customer service to avoid

If you want to go digital, avoid Solarplicity. Until May 2019 it was banned from taking on new customers by Ofgem for substandard customer service. It has now agreed with the regulator that it won't acquire new customers until 5 August.

In our survey, customers rated its online service very poorly overall. It was fast to respond to emails in our snapshot undercover investigation, but our survey results show that customers were unimpressed with its overall online service.

Spark Energy and Npower were also rated poorly by customers for online service.