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NMa: energy suppliers must keep doing their best to raise complaint-handling quality

The quality of complaint handling in the energy industry has somewhat improved again during the past year. Across the board, consumers awarded complaint handling higher grades than they did at the start of the study back in 2006. However, differences in grades among energy suppliers continue to be substantial. The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has come to these conclusions, based on a comprehensive study held among the ten biggest energy suppliers in the Netherlands, in which three newcomers to the energy market were included for the first time ever. Jaap de Keijzer, member of the Board of the NMa, reacts: 'Every time we take a measurement, we see an upward trend. The industry's grade average is now a 5.4. The upward trend in itself is positive news, but suppliers must continue to make that effort. They are not there yet.'

Complaint handling is part of quality
Whenever consumers file complaints about their energy supplier, they should be able to rely on the fact that their complaints are handled properly. That is why the NMa monitors the quality of complaint handling in the energy market. In 2006, the NMa launched the study because it had been receiving various indications that the complaint handling systems of energy suppliers were inadequate. Complaint handling quality is, besides price, one of the most important service quality indicators – it is one of the factors consumers use when choosing energy suppliers.

Intensive oversight
The NMa has carried out studies into complaint handling quality every year since 2006. In these studies, the NMa measures customer perceptions: what grade do consumers with complaints give the handling of their complaint? These grades do not reflect actual complaint handling quality. Mr. de Keijzer continues: 'When we first held this study, energy suppliers were awarded a 4.2 on average by their customers for complaint handling. That abysmal grade prompted us to monitor complaint handling quality more vigorously. By and large, energy suppliers have stepped up their efforts to boost complaint handling. However, they are not quite there yet.'

Study to become a continuing study
The NMa publishes the complaint handling quality grades as an incentive for energy suppliers to provide better service to consumers. 'Energy suppliers really need to step it up in order to permanently raise complaint handling quality. The study will therefore never be rounded up – we think it is far too important to permanently monitor complaint handling quality. Let us not forget that some suppliers even scored lower now than they did the first time,' Mr. de Keijzer says.