Report reveals unimpressive telcos

Australia’s two biggest telecommunication companies – Telstra and Optus – fared poorly in a customer service survey of Australian consumers.

Peak communications consumer group, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), has released a report called Can You Hear Me? on the customer service provided by 10 telco providers.

The report found that consumers are unimpressed by the amount of time they spend getting a resolution to a telecommunications issue.

It takes an average of 13 days for an issue to be resolved, but for those with more difficult issues, averages blow out to two months.

The results confirm customer experiences of having to contact providers multiple times about an issue, repeatedly explaining the problem, and disappointing levels of first contact resolution. The results also found that escalating an issue to a formal complaint can be difficult.

“We’ve all got our own experience of telco customer service, but we wanted to quantify this and give consumers some idea of who is providing the best service across a number of metrics,” said ACCAN Chief Executive Teresa Corbin.

“Nearly half the complaints received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) last year identified customer service as an issue, so we know it’s a source of considerable frustration.”

Vodafone topped the survey of customer satisfaction of complaint handling, with 61 per cent saying they had a positive experience. Other telcos that recorded better than 50 per cent positive experiences were TPG/iiNet, Amaysim and Dodo/iPrimus.

Telstra and Optus customers gave positive rankings of 43 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively. 

Lowest ranked were Belong and regional provider Active8Me, both getting positive scores of only 36 per cent.

Virgin, which is no longer in the market after being bought out by Optus, ranked the highest of all on the survey, scoring 70 per cent positive ratings from customers.

“It’s obvious that there is clear need for improvement,” said Ms Corbin.

“Poor customer service by the industry shifts costs from providers to their customers, who are experiencing loss and disruption by spending far too long trying to resolve issues.

“We found customers are spending days trying to sort out very straightforward things like changing a plan, updating contact details, and general account inquiries. This is not acceptable.

“We’re recommending a fresh look at customer service by the industry and the regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

“We’d like to see more concrete obligations in the Code, and more active enforcement by the regulator,” added Ms Corbin.

Particular recommendations identified by ACCAN include reduced timeframes to resolve issues, reduced wait times to contact customer service staff, increased first contact resolution, and improved training and performance of customer service staff.

Which company or companies do you use for your telecommunication services? How would you rate their customer service when something goes wrong? Would you recommend them to a friend?

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Written by Ben

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