Leading commercial energy supplier BES Utilities has seen its customer base grow by 20% over the last year.
More than 40,000 businesses across the UK are now supplied by the Lancashire-based company.
New figures, released today, show BES has 29,052 electricity customers and 11,355 gas – up from 23,273 electricity, 10,375 gas in August 2014.
The impressive rise in customer numbers has come at a time of increased competition in the non-domestic utility market.
A number of new companies have entered the highly competitive sector in the last year as research shows many customers are continuing to move away from the ‘Big Six’ suppliers.
Andy Pilley, founder and managing director of BES, said: “The fact we have grown our customer base so significantly at a time when there is increased competition in the non-domestic market shows BES is getting it right.
“We pride ourselves on looking after our customers and offering them the best supply packages for their business, whether they are a sole trader or a big manufacturing operation or high street chain.
“Being an independent operator means we can react quicker than the ‘Big Six’ suppliers to market trends and customer needs, therefore giving our customers the right bespoke package for them.
“We have invested massively over the last year to expand our Customer Service Teams and these improvements in call handling and response times, together with our market-leading products, I firmly believe, have helped us increase our market share.”
As well its competitive pricing (it was the first UK supplier to cut its rates in 2015) BES prides itself in being at the forefront of the drive to rollout free smart meters which give electricity customers real-time information on their energy usage. To date, more than 70% of BES electricity customers have a smart meter.
The BES group – which includes BES Commercial Electricity, BES Commercial Gas, BES Telecom and Fleetwood Town FC – has employed more than 50 new staff this year alone as part of its drive to improve customer service.
Its Fleetwood-based workforce now totals more than 450, making it one of the largest private sector employers on the Fylde coast.
BES’s growth, both in terms of staff and customers, comes as research by Cornwall Energy has highlighted the increasing competition in the non-domestic energy market, with an additional seven companies starting to supply electricity and/or gas to the sector since May 2014.
The report, prepared for Energy UK and released this week, showed there were 39 companies actively supplying energy in the business electricity market, and 33 actively supplying gas.
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said: “We have seen a transformation in the energy retail market over recent years as new entrants are coming in and shaking up the market. Increased competition is driving prices down across the board for customers.”
This increased competition has put more emphasis on customer service, which was recently highlighted by consumer champion Citizen’s Advice which warned many utilities customers were facing a “customer service lottery”.
In an effort to improve its performance BES, which was recently shortlisted for the Treating Customers Fairly Award at The Utilities & Telecoms Awards 2015, has doubled the size of its Customer Service Team in the last year.
The new teams have enabled advisors to resolve customer queries at the first point of contact, therefore reducing waiting times. In the last six months BES has moved from a 10-day Service Level Agreement (SLA) response time to a one day SLA response time.
Mr Pilley said BES was determined to give its customers an unrivalled level of excellent service.
He added: “There is nothing more important to our business than our customers and that is why we have invested so extensively in our Customer Service Teams.
“By offering excellent customer service we believe BES will continue to grow. While we are certainly not complacent, we have already begun to see the results of expanding this area of the business.”