Enriching understanding of standalone voice customers
This qualitative research was commissioned to support Ofcom’s review of the market for standalone landline telephone services.
The project is reviewing competition in the retail markets for standalone fixed voice access and calls (for consumers that do not purchase fixed broadband and/or other services in a bundle with their fixed voice services). Telephone line rental prices have risen between 25-49% between December 2009 and 2016 while the actual cost of providing these services has fallen by up to 26%. As a result, there was concern that standalone voice customers may not be benefitting from competition and paying significantly above cost.
This research focused on the following two groups of decision-making consumers who make up the standalone voice customer market:
- ‘Landline-only’ customers who have a landline, but no fixed broadband (c.12% of landline homes).
- ‘Split-purchaser’ customers who buy standalone landline and a separate package including broadband, usually with different suppliers (c.5% of landline homes).
The main aim of this research was to gain a rich understanding of standalone voice customers’ usage and attitudes towards their landline provider. Ofcom wanted to understand their attitudes towards switching provider/tariff, identify influencers on customers’ switching consideration, and explore what (if anything) will encourage them to engage with the market and consider switching.
Ofcom also wanted to explore the effectiveness of various potential test communications messages which were shown to participants in the research sessions. These were created as four different letter communications that varied in terms of sender, tone, presentation of information on savings, information on the switching process, as well as prompts and mechanisms to act and respond to information.