Latest customer service satisfaction levels revealed

04 December 2012

Levels of satisfaction with the customer service of landline, broadband, mobile and pay TV providers are today revealed in new Ofcom research.1

Thousands of consumers who had contacted their provider between July and September 2012 were interviewed and asked to rate their customer service experience.

Various aspects of the providers' customer service were scored including; the speed with which issues were dealt with; the standard of advice given; and the attitude and ability of the advisor.

Overall, satisfaction with customer service remained lowest in the fixed broadband (62%) market, although levels have improved year on year2, compared to landline (64%), mobile (67%) and pay TV (69%).

Since Ofcom first began measuring satisfaction levels in 2009, there has been improvement in a number of aspects of customer service.

The research reveals particular progress in the ease and speed of contacting customer services in the mobile, broadband and landline markets during this period. Furthermore, overall customer service ratings have risen in the landline market, increasing by six percentage points since 2009.

The research also reveals, however, that there are now more mobile customers who are dissatisfied with the standard of customer service (14%) than there were in 2009 (9%).

Publication of Ofcom's customer service research3 is part of a broader programme of work to ensure that consumers have access to reliable, accurate and up-to-date information to enable them to make informed decisions when considering a service or provider. This programme also includes publication of complaints data and research on broadband speeds. Ofcom last conducted its customer satisfaction research in September 2011.

Landline telephone services (Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and BT)

The main reason consumers contacted their landline provider was to change their package or service.

Overall satisfaction with customer service by landline provider

 SatisfactionNeutralDissatisfaction
Sky70%20%10%
Virgin Media64%19%17%
TalkTalk64%18%18%
BT63%22%14%
Sector Average64%20%15%

*Scores may total more than 100% due to rounding.

In relation to overall satisfaction with customer service, no providers' scores were significantly better or worse than average (64%).

Satisfaction with Virgin Media's customer service, however, has increased significantly since last year (from 53% to 64%), while the increase in satisfaction with BT's service since 2009 has been maintained (from 55% to 63%).

Satisfaction with some individual aspects of Sky's customer service is higher than average. Customers were particularly satisfied with the ease of getting through to the right person and also claim they are more likely to stay with the company than those of its competitors.

Fixed broadband services (Sky, BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Orange)

Connection speed remained the biggest issue for broadband customers, followed by changing package.

Overall satisfaction with customer service by fixed broadband provider

 SatisfactionNeutralDissatisfaction
Sky63%25%12%
BT63%20%17%
Virgin Media61%20%19%
TalkTalk60%24%15%
Orange59%22%20%
Sector Average62%22%17%

*Scores may total more than 100% due to rounding.

For overall customer service satisfaction, no provider is rated as significantly different to the sector average (62%).

Sky has improved year on year on certain aspects of its customer service. 

Ratings for its advisors are above average and have increased since last year, as has satisfaction with the time taken to handle issues. Ratings of broadband providers in most areas of customer service are higher than in 2009. Orange has strengthened its performance since 2009 and is now in line with the market average.

Mobile services (O2, Three, T-Mobile, Orange, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone)

The main reason customers contacted their provider was to discuss changes to their package or service, with the next most common issue being poor reception or coverage.

Overall satisfaction with customer service by mobile provider

 SatisfactionNeutralDissatisfaction
O276%15%8%
Three67%18%14%
T-Mobile67%18%15%
Orange65%21%14%
Virgin Mobile64%18%17%
Vodafone61%21%18%
Sector Average67%19%14%
    

*Scores may total more than 100% due to rounding.

O2 was rated above average for overall customer service satisfaction (76%).  O2 also scored higher than average on certain elements of its customer service, such as providing clear advice, the speed with which it handles and resolves issues, being easy to contact and for offering compensation or a goodwill gesture.

Satisfaction with Three's customer service improved by seven percentage points from last year and is now no longer below the sector average.

Time taken to handle issues contributed to a small reduction in satisfaction among Orange and T-Mobile customers, while Vodafone scored lower than average for the usefulness of the advice and information provided.

O2 customers are revealed as saying they are less likely than average to leave, however claimed loyalty to O2, Vodafone and Orange has declined year on year.

Pay TV services (Sky and Virgin Media)

The key reasons consumers gave for contacting their pay TV provider were to change package or service, arrange an engineer visit or to take issue with the time taken for repairs.

Overall satisfaction with customer service by provider

 SatisfactionNeutralDissatisfaction
Sky71%20%9%
Virgin Media66%18%16%
Sector Average69%19%11%

*Scores may total more than 100% due to rounding.

Neither Sky nor Virgin's overall customer service satisfaction ratings were significantly different to the average (69%).

Dissatisfaction with Virgin Media's customer service, however, has increased since 2009 (from 10% to 16%), while the proportion of customers who say they will remain loyal to Virgin Media has declined during this period.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom's Consumer Group Director, said: "It's encouraging to see a degree of improvement in certain areas of customer service in the communications sectors.

"Ofcom hopes that this research will both incentivise providers to improve all aspects of their customer service and give consumers valuable information about the standards of customer service they can expect when choosing a provider."

The full research can be found here.

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. The research conducted by Gfk involved 3,000 interviews as part of a nationally representative telephone omnibus survey.  An online panel survey was then completed in September 2012 among consumers who had contacted their provider in the previous three months. Between 1,200 and 2,200 customer service events were identified within each of the four service areas: landline, mobile, fixed broadband and pay TV.
  2. Broadband customer service satisfaction levels improved from 58% in September 2011 to 62% in September 2012
  3. Ofcom's primary duty in carrying out its functions is to further the interests of UK citizens and consumers. Section 3(1) of the Communications Act 2003. Sections 14, 15 and 26 of the Act refer to the publication of consumer research and information by Ofcom.
  4. In January 2011, Ofcom introduced a single mandatory Code of Practice setting standards for how communications providers must handle complaints from consumers. It requires providers to ensure the fair and timely resolution of complaints, and have procedures that are transparent and accessible so that consumers can easily find out how to make a complaint.