The broadcasting regulatory body, Ofcom, has published its annual findings on the service provided for customers by broadband and mobile companies.
Plusnet was announced to be the best provider, with TalkTalk and Vodafone branded as having the UK’s worst service.
Ofcom’s report aimed to “shine a light on providers’ performance to help consumers make more informed decisions, and to give providers additional incentives to improve the quality of the service they provide.” The study looked at customer satisfaction, complaints and call-waiting times.
For broadband, Plusnet’s customers reported 86% satisfaction with the service provided, with Virgin Media and Sky next, both on 83%. BT and EE both received a score of 79%, with TalkTalk significantly lower on 72%. Plusnet did have some areas of weakness, however; they were criticised for having by far the longest call waiting time for broadband and landline complaints, with customers being asked to hold for 7 minutes and 50 seconds, a far cry from the industry average of 1 minute 40. The best company for this was EE, where the average hold time is only 48 seconds. Ofcom also found that Virgin Media broadband customers were the most likely to recommend their service to a friend, with TalkTalk customers the least likely.
TalkTalk’s position at the bottom of the chart appears to show that the provider is struggling to recover from the damage done to its reputation by the data breach a few years ago. TalkTalk customers reported lower than average satisfaction with complaints handling (40% compared to the industry average of 50%) and there were more complaints than average – 113 per thousand subscribers, significantly higher than the average of 75, especially when compared to other providers, such as Sky, who only recorded 29 complaints per thousand.
Lindsey Fussell, consumer group director at Ofcom, said: “People often focus on price when they’re choosing a phone or broadband provider. But there are big differences in the customer service offered by providers. We are encouraging people to look beyond the price and consider customer service, too. In such a competitive market companies simply can’t afford to let their service standard slip. If they don’t up their game, customers can vote with their feet.”
Gillian Guy, CEO of the charity Citizens Advice, stated that: “Broadband and mobile are now essential services for many of us. Consumers deserve services that meet the demands of modern life, yet these new figures show that not all providers are delivering. Citizens Advice research also reveals that loyal customers face higher prices in the telecoms market.”
Analysis website thinkbroadband.com noted that superfast/ultrafast broadband providers had significantly higher satisfaction rates than standard providers. Superfast-providing companies scored an average of 82% and ultrafast at 86%, compared to standard providers at 71%. This demonstrates the importance to customers of modernised infrastructure that allows seamless internet access.