This afternoon, I decided to dive into a little exercise, exploring the way various UK Energy company chatbots have been deployed. Let me tell you, it’s been quite an eye-opening experience!
Why you might ask? Well, I was originally looking to test lots of customer service-driven chatbots and analyse the similarities and differences – I failed miserably, so you got this instead 🤣
If you want to call Octopus Energy or Email, they have you covered. I searched for at least 10 minutes for a way to LiveChat or a Chatbot with no luck. As a potential customer looking for some basic answers to basic questions, it’s a simple FAQ section or having to resort to emailing or phoning and to be fair, most customers are not going to take the time to do that, especially when there is so much choice in the UK domestic energy market.
SCORE – 0/10
I love how Utilia Energy has approached its Conversational AI implementation.
You can tell from the outset that some thought has been given to both their overall strategy and the customer journey. Firstly it doesn’t feel like the cheaper cousin to a call or email. It’s been delivered in a considered and thoughtful way. If I wanted an agent I just asked and got the option for a live agent conversation. If I wanted a phone number to speak to someone, I just asked. If I wanted to email, I just asked and was given the email.
I did some investigating and found an article on the website talking about how they implemented LogMeIn’s Bold360 chatbot platform.
Bold360 has allowed us to support customer queries at a much faster rate. The chatbot is now handling more than 220,000 questions each month, 71 per cent of which are answered without any human intervention.
I’ve reached out to Chris Downs, Head of Delivery at the time of launching the product for comment.
SCORE – 10/10
Utility Warehouse is a slightly different beast as it’s an MLM (Multi-level marketing) business model. That aside, I couldn’t see the email, the phone number to call, live chat or chatbot options, so did some digging. Once I realised that they wanted you to explore the Help Centre first, I was able to find a ‘Contact Us’ button. Feels like they don’t want to talk! Here I was directed to a form or a phone number. No email is provided.
I’m not a huge fan of forms, especially as many of us are now using our phones to browse the internet. Forms are awkward and fiddly.
Oh, They do provide their details so you can write to them 🤦
Personally, and from a customer services perspective, it felt like stepping back 10 years.
SCORE – 0/10
When I saw the ‘Powered by Octopus Energy’ statement, my heart dropped. Not from a supplier POV but from the fact that Octopus Energy’s Conversational AI was non-existent. I quickly headed to the footer to find a Contact Us or Help & Support link. Clicking on Help took me to Octopus Energy. Contact US took me to this page, which is totally confusing.
SCORE – 0/10 (I would give a minus but it would mess up the scoring)
Arriving at the website I felt physically ill. I’m sorry to be so brutal but the website design is criminal. I was not hopeful to see a Chatbot! I noticed a support tab at the top of the website (I wish I hadn’t). Text-heavy is an understatement. Who has the time or patience to read all that, especially with that tiny font?
At the bottom of the page, you can get the phone number, email and address to write a letter. No live chat and no Chatbot – obviously.
SCORE – 0/10
So no live chat or Chatbot from the home page was not unexpected at this stage as most of the UK energy companies I’ve seen have not had that. First I checked the help tab. Perhaps that’s how you access Live Chat and hopefully their Conversational Ai 🤞. Yes, there’s a Chat To Us option plus phone, call or write (because it’s 1990 still in the energy world). Don’t like the welcome at all. A better approach is to list 5 of the most common FAQs and let the customer type. I typed ‘agent please’ and it failed. To I added a few more words ‘Can I speak to an agent?’ and was asked to confirm I wanted to speak to an agent. That’s not needed. The intent is clear, just pass me over. From that point forward the chatbot starts asking too many questions. From a customer experience perspective – not great.
SCORE – 3-10
As expected, no Live Chat or Chatbot access from the homepage. Help & Support was available on the top menu so I didn’t have to hunt for it. As you would hope, there are FAQs and help articles, but no live chat or chatbot. Of course, I know where it will be. On the Contact Us page right? Wrong. However, not all is lost there’s WhatsApp. A quick scan of the QR code and we are in – and it’s a chatbot 🙏
I’m impressed as it just seems to work! Well done EDF 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏
SCORE – 7-10 (Would have been more if it was available as a web agent)
Well, isn’t it amusing how some folks might suggest that companies in the cutthroat UK domestic energy market are just on a wholesome mission to harvest every last penny, all while giving the customer experience a teensy-weensy, itty-bitty thought? But hey, who in their right mind would ever utter such a preposterous notion? Certainly not I!