Co-op Energy has won a top national award for customer care for the way it stepped in to look after customers of GB Energy when it failed late last year.
The supplier, which is part of the Midcounties Co-operative, won the Customer Care Award at the 2017 Utility Week Awards.
Judges commended Co-op Energy for the way it “bravely took on a high-risk project, providing a retailer of last resort for customers who had nowhere else to turn”.
Co-op Energy was appointed by Ofgem to be the supplier of last resort in November 2016 after GB Energy collapsed.
Its task was to provide consistency and continuity for GB Energy’s 160,000 customers, ensuring that their energy supply was not interrupted and reassuring them that any credit they had with GB Energy would be protected.
Co-op Energy honoured GB Energy’s fixed tariffs for their duration and pledged not to raise its variable tariff for at least six months. It also retained all staff and immediately set about clearing GB Energy’s backlog of more than 50,000 customer emails, billing exceptions and outstanding complaints – dealing with the majority within one month.
David Heathfield, head of customer experience at Co-op Energy, said: “Being a co-operative makes us different to other energy suppliers, and principles of fairness and looking after our customers and members are in our DNA.
“When we saw that GB Energy had failed, we did everything we could to ensure that its customers got the best deal possible for them, and received a seamless transition to their new supplier.
“From honouring GB Energy’s prices to ensure its customers got a fair deal financially, to sending regular communications explaining what was happening, our first priority was to ensure that no customers lost out as a result of their supplier’s failure.
“The next step was to improve the service and care that they had been receiving, which we did within weeks so that thousands of customers were actually better off as a result of what happened, rather than worse.”
The annual Utility Week Awards recognise the best performance by teams and companies responsible for producing, distributing and retailing energy or water in the UK.
Winners are rewarded in 10 categories, ranging from customer care to environment or community initiatives.