Why It’s Not All About the Big Six

by | Apr 23, 2021 | Sales Execution

Why It’s Not All About the Big Six

It’s not all about the “Big Six” and as we’ve just experienced, don’t forget the little people when it comes to customer retention.

In October 2019 Which? surveyed 8,385 UK residents about their energy supplier and asked them to rate their energy provider on value for money, customer service, bill accuracy and digital tools. Can you guess who was top?

A clue… I wasn’t any of the energy ‘‘Big Six’!

In fact, when measured on customer service Npower, Scottish Power and Shell Energy only scored 2 out of 5.

When taking into account all five of the criteria Octopus Energy came top with the first of the ‘‘Big Six’’ SSE, being down in 24th place.

So why is this important? 

Octopus Energy was created in 2015 growing to 2 million domestic and business customers by February 2021, making big gains over the ‘‘Big Six’’.

Replacing SSE as the energy supplier for M&S energy in 2018.

Why?

Because Octopus put the customer at the heart of their business and focused as importantly on customer retention as gaining new customers.

Which? highlights that for some of the bigger suppliers customer service has been forgotten, ignored or more likely automated and therefore customer retention has been taken for granted. 

As someone who has worked for Shell, who at the time focused heavily on customer service, I do have a great insight into the above, but remember this is purely in my opinion.

But let us look at what we can learn from the ‘Big Six’.

Making customer service/retention an automated process.

The amount of customers you have is never just a number, it’s the lifeblood of your business and without them, your business just wouldn’t be able to operate.

I quite often hear business owners say when losing customers “this one really wasn’t an ideal customer anyway” or “we’ll we can always go and get more”.

There is only a finite amount of people that need your services. Remember it takes significantly more cost and effort to find a new customer than selling to an existing customer. 

There’s no getting away from the fact that we live in an on-demand society.

You are used to having what you want when you want it. It won’t surprise you then that your customers behave in this expectant way too.

So why would your customers be happy to wait days or hours for a response or even an answer to their questions?

Creating a process where they are placed into an automated system can be highly frustrating for them.

We’ve all experienced calls where we’ve gone through endless automated messages asking us to press button after button when all we want is to speak to an actual human being. 

You can find more on this by downloading a copy of The Five Anchors of Modern Selling.

Adapt the process not the customer.

Energy companies do have one product that fits all for its domestic users. I understand that.

There’s not much difference between what Mrs Jones on Main Road and Mr Smith on High Street receive.

But it doesn’t mean the entire process from sign up, customer onboarding, customer service and billing experience has to feel the same. 

A 2019 study highlighted that 40% of European and British domestic customers would be more likely to stay with their existing provider if they provided a better-tailored service.

So don’t make your customers fit your customer servicing process, adapt your process to be flexible enough to fit around your customer.

If you’re thinking that might be a lot of work, consider that increasing your customer retention rate by 5% can increase profits of between 25% and 95%. 

Ask your customer if they are happy.

After the Which? survey came out Npower claimed to be disappointed to receive such results, as it was currently receiving the second lowest number of complaints per 100,000 customers out of all the ‘Big Six’.

This clearly shows, to me, an interesting insight about who they perhaps perceived as their competitors at this time.

Do not wait for a complaint, instead make sure you stay in contact and continuously ask your customers how they feel about your product and service, and what could be improved.

This simple step can dramatically improve your customer retention.

Read more about how feedback can help improve the customer experience in this article from Plan.Grow.Do. Feedback excuses in sales. Why we need to get over ourselves and aim for a better customer experience.

It’s not all about the “Big Six”

Your Key Accounts or larger customer must be your focus.

The message and learning from the recent ESL fiasco is clear.

If you forget the majority and ignore the voice of your customer…

What’s Next?

Here’s last weeks article if you missed it The Truth Behind Customer Retention

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