Emma Drew has kindly agreed to let us tell you about our project at socialconsumer.co.uk.
We hope to make comparing suppliers just that little bit easier… and to make the UK a better place. No pressure!
We're asking for your opinions, and giving you chances to win a £50 Amazon voucher!
Cost or Quality?
Do you choose your energy, broadband, or mobile phone supplier based purely on price? Some people do… and fair enough.
Or do you base your decision on technical quality? How clearly the bill differentiates between gas and electricity, or between the standing charge and actual usage. What the download speeds are like in your area. Whether mobile coverage is consistent when you're out and about. And so on.
Or are you more inclined to focus on customer service, ethics, or eco-friendliness?
In the case of the comparison and switching sites, the focus is mostly on cost, they seem to ignore all of these issues of quality almost entirely. This is probably why a lot of people don't switch (45% of households have never switched energy suppliers, according to OFGEM). We want to fix this!
Comparing and Switching
Quality of customer service is important to some people. We think that customer service is so important that it should be part of the comparison process from the start!
Some people would like to know how their suppliers stack up on things like Ethics and Eco-Friendliness. These are extra features that enhance the quality of the service, in some people's eyes, but they may also add cost. One person may want to save £15/month on electricity, and that’s it. Another person might be prepared to forego the saving to ensure good customer service from well-paid call-centre staff, knowing that the electricity is from renewable sources (or at least not adding to nuclear waste).
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get a comparison between companies based on your personal values?
Even once you have all of this information, nothing beats knowing about the personal experiences of your friends and family. So we want to include that information as well.
As we hope our website name suggests, we want to make getting the right deals something that you do with the help of your friends and family.
But no one really wants to talk about household bills, do they?
We would like you to maintain a profile on the system that we’re building that says which companies you use and how good (or bad) they are. All you need to do is rate your suppliers on price, billing, customer service, and so on. Those of your Facebook friends who also use our system will be able to see a report of what all of their friends and family (including you) think of the suppliers out there. Then, on those rare occasions when you do want to have a chat about a particular supplier, with a friend who actually uses that supplier… you can.
We want to make sure this system works the way you expect it to, so at the moment our web site is geared towards running short surveys asking you what you think of the energy, broadband, and mobile markets, comparison and switching, and our idea. As a thank you for telling us your opinion, you go into the draw for a £50 Amazon voucher!
Our current set of surveys gives you up to 10 entries in the May Prize Draw (entries close at noon on May 31st). You will need to have a Facebook account to be able to enter.
You can choose to do just one – this tells us what type of consumer you are, and what you think of our idea – this will get you one entry. You can then choose to do any combination of the other three (worth three entries each), asking for your thoughts on Energy, Broadband, and Mobile Phone suppliers.
If you’re reading this after May, you haven’t missed out! We intend to have prize draws every month. Entry to the draws will usually require doing a short survey to guide our decisions about how we build this service.
One thing we’ll be asking about in the near future is whether you would want to share your ratings anonymously, or whether you’d be happy to have your name associated with your rating of the company you use. We’ll also be asking things like what you think the service should be called, and how it should look, and so on.
Enter now, and help make Social Consumer a reality!