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TalkTalk’s customers are less likely to be satisfied with the service they receive, more likely to make a complaint, and least likely to be happy with how their complaints are handled, according to a report on communications service provider (CSP) customer service released by telecoms regulator Ofcom.
The report looked at customer satisfaction metrics from the main UK providers of broadband, mobile and landline services. For fixed services (broadband and landline), Ofcom deems the main providers to be BT, EE, KCOM (in East Yorkshire only), Plusnet, Post Office, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, while for mobile services it drew data from BT mobile, EE, giffgaff, O2, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone.
“Communications services such as our home phone, mobile and broadband, help to keep us entertained, stay in touch with friends and family and make everyday tasks easier. But when they go wrong it can be inconvenient, disruptive and expensive,” said Ofcom in the report preamble.
“This means it’s vital that communications providers deliver reliable services, and offer proper support when things aren’t working. Shining a light on customers’ experiences means people can easily compare the service quality available.
“It allows them to look beyond the price and get a much richer picture of what they can expect from different companies. It also gives providers a clear incentive to improve their service quality,” Ofcom added.
While eight in 10 broadband customers polled for Ofcom’s survey said they were satisfied with their provider, only 72% of TalkTalk were happy with their service, compared with 86% of Plusnet users, 83% of Sky and Virgin Media users, and 79% of BT and EE users.
Around 18% of TalkTalk users had a reason to complain, and only 40% were satisfied with how their complaints were dealt with, compared with 59% of EE users and 57% of Sky users. TalkTalk also generated 113 complaints per 100,000 subscribers, compared with just 29 for Sky.
The only metric by which TalkTalk came out well was on average call waiting times, with its customers only having to wait 52 seconds for their calls to be picked up. EE performed slightly better with a 48-second wait, BT and Virgin Media clocked in close to one minute 30 seconds, and customers of Plusnet had to wait on hold for an average of seven minutes and 50 seconds.
When it came to mobile services, 90% were satisfied with their service, with mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) Tesco Mobile and giffgaff the most likely to be recommended, and Vodafone and Virgin Mobile the least.
Customers of mobile network operators (MNOs) and MVNOs alike were found to be substantially less likely to have a reason to complain – Vodafone was worst with 7% and EE and giffgaff best.
They were also more likely to be happy with how they were dealt with – 67% of Tesco Mobile customers and 61% of EE customers were happy with complaint handling, although only 47% of Vodafone customers were.
Ofcom said it was taking a number of steps to try to improve the customer service experience for broadband, mobile and landline users.
These include introducing automatic compensation for consumers when things go wrong; improving the performance of Openreach, on the basis that this will enable the providers that use its network to perform better; giving consumers more information on broadband speeds; doing more to support full-fibre roll-out and raise awareness of the incoming universal service obligation (USO); and tightening the rules around how CSPs manage customer complaints.