Customer satisfaction in telecoms is on the up

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Overall customer satisfaction in the telecoms sector has increased over the past year, continuing the ongoing upward trend in satisfaction since 2011, reveals the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), published today by the Institute of Customer Service. The UKCSI gives the UK’s telecoms industry an overall customer satisfaction rating of 72.9 out of 100 – 1.2 points higher than its July 2015 score – although it remains the lowest ranked sector.

The data offers important insights into key metrics, including complaints, trust and changing channel use. This year, the sector has seen improvements in measures such as speed of service for face to face contact with customers, and ease in getting through to companies on the phone. Telecoms continues to generate the highest number of complaints, with one fifth (20%) of customers having experienced a problem. Although this has dropped by 2.6% over the past year, the figure is still much higher than the UK average of 12.5%.

Eight organisations within the sector have improved, with only one demonstrating a fall in customer satisfaction. Giffgaff tops the tables as the highest scorer in the industry, with Tesco Mobile as the most improved.

The telecoms sector has the lowest UKCSI rating and also ranks the lowest for ‘getting it right first time’ (27% of customers said that it didn’t). It is also, alongside utilities, the least trusted sector. However, there have been improvements, with giffgaff and Tesco mobile both climbing the UKCSI ranks to number 25 and 31 for customer service respectively. This progression from challenger brands indicates the need for established players in the telecoms sector to make improvements in order to compete effectively on customer service, and in turn market share.

The UKCSI is the Institute of Customer Service’s national measure of customer satisfaction based on 10,000 consumer responses. It provides insights into the state and direction of customer satisfaction at a national level, across 13 key sectors and for individual organisations.

The results found a clear link between organisations getting customer experiences right first time and achieving high scores for satisfaction. On average the UKCSI score was 82.7 for those organisations where customers said they had issues resolved immediately, but when this did not happen the score drops to an average of 59. This correlation can be seen in the telecoms industry, where customers rate companies as getting it right first time in 63% of cases and the sector received an overall rating of 72.9.

In many sectors there has been an increase in the score for customer effort – in other words, customers said they had to expend more effort in dealing with organisations than they did a year ago. In the telecoms sector, 49% of people say that it has taken them more than two complaints to get a problem fixed. The extra staff time spent on repeat customer contact to resolve issues is arguably time which could be better spent, with businesses set to save money on staff hours if a focus is placed on getting it right first time .

Across all sectors, the research also reveals that many people don’t make the effort to complain to organisations if they do have a problem; 24% of people who experienced an issue did not report it. ‘Not thinking their complaint would make a difference’ was by far the most common reason for not reporting, cited by 51% of people.

The UKCSI also revealed new evidence of the tangible business benefits of good customer service for all sectors. The relationship between the highest levels of customer satisfaction and trust has strengthened in the past year, with 96% of customers who rate an organisation nine or ten out of ten for customer satisfaction also giving the highest levels of trust.

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, comments:
“’Getting it right first time’ has to be a prerequisite for any organisation. Customers expect to be dealt with quickly and competently – as soon as they start to feel let down or ignored, their trust is lost. It’s encouraging to see the telecoms sector is making progress, but prevention is always better than cure, so the industry should take note of the areas which need to be focused on. Efficiency, effectiveness and empathy are key, and organisations should always follow up with customers to ensure that the problem is resolved.”