By Alex Evans, Editorial Director, National Business Awards

Like most good ideas, leading independent energy supplier Ovo Energy and winner of last year’s Customer Focus award at the National Business Awards, was created to solve a problem.

Founder and Managing Director Stephen Fitzpatrick, was so fed up dealing with large energy companies with complicated, expensive and confusing tariffs he decided to start his own.
We speak to Stephen about why Ovo won last year’s award and why customer service is so important -

Why is Ovo different?

We were created by customers for customers, with the mission of becoming the most trusted energy company in the UK. We're challenging the status quo by offering a fresh perspective in a highly competitive market. We look at opportunities to empower our customers, asking them what they want and finding the most efficient way of delivering it.

What Does Good Customer Service Mean?

It’s because I was able to think like a customer that the business is built around the idea of making their lives as simple as possible. With Ovo everything is more straightforward and our UK based customer service team is very valued by our customers. We’re open and honest and we do everything we can to keep our prices low, while still offering more renewable energy in our standard tariff than all other energy providers.

What are the results at Ovo?

We have grown from one customer at launch to over 90,000 after almost three years, and our customer turnover rate is significantly lower than the bigger energy suppliers. We’ve received positive feedback directly from customers, with plenty saying they would recommend us to a friend. With our mission to become the UK’s most trusted energy supplier by 2020, we know the value of keeping our customers happy and how this directly impacts on our bottom line.

What's the value of delivering good customer service?

Good customer service is about listening and recognising what the customers want and delivering it consistently, to the highest possible standards. But it’s just as important to find, nurture and reward your team. If they are motivated then they’ll deliver even better service and the value will be easy to measure.

What advice can you offer other companies?

I would say carrying out research and listening to feedback from customers is key — and then letting them know what you do with that insight. It’s also vital to focus on doing fewer things really well, especially in the beginning and then building up to more over time.

How do you think customer focus has changed?

Standards are rising — people want more for their money not just in terms of quantity, but service too. I also think businesses are starting to look at more innovative ways of delivering good customer service; we have several initiatives running that are a direct result of customer feedback and us looking at creative ways to engage with consumers. The way we’ve simplified energy and our high standards are paying off — we’re delivering a good service, being as environmentally friendly as possible and for a fair price — exactly what our customers want.