Creating Customer Loyalty Takes More Than ‘Being Local’


Bristol Energy was doomed to failure because its main selling point - being based in Bristol - isn’t important to energy customers, according to South West-based energy switching service, Flipper.

Loss-making Bristol Energy was put up for sale earlier this year after Bristol City Council had invested £37.7 million of council taxpayers’ money into the venture. It was initially expected to be in profit by 2019 but the latest projection is now that the break-even point will not be until 2023-24.

Mark Gutteridge, managing director of Flipper, the energy auto-switching service, said:

“Customers who engage with the energy market only care about two things: saving money and customer service. And while the number of customers who also want to be on a green energy tariff is growing, no-one chooses their new energy supplier because of where they are based.

“The tariffs offered by Bristol Energy were never that competitive and their service was OK but not outstanding* so there was no clear reason for customers to choose to move to them or stay with them.”

Flipper, who search the energy market every month for its thousands of members, and switch them every time they can save on their bills, is also Bristol-based, but Mark Gutteridge says its focus is putting the customer first.

“Bristol is a real tech hub and it’s an exciting place to have a business, but our number one priority is delivering great customer service, as that’s what creates customer loyalty and advocacy. We use customer feedback to ensure everything we develop, every innovation, is relevant to them and will save our members time as well as money.”

This approach is definitely working - one in three new members sign up due to friends or family recommending Flipper to them, it is rated as ”excellent” on Trustpilot and won “Best Customer Service Provider” at the Utility and Telecom Awards last year.

And while Bristol Energy has struggled over the past few years, Mark Gutteridge says he hopes the company survives.

“No-one likes to see a business fail and we need competition in the energy market to ensure customers have a choice of great deals from great suppliers. I really hope they find a buyer who can take Bristol Energy and create something that appeals to more people.”

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