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By Jo Causon, CEO, The Institute of Customer Service

In last month’s blog, I discussed the results of our latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) and expressed my concerns over evidence that a dip in customer satisfaction levels is beginning to take hold.

One of the sectors that performed least strongly was Telecommunications & Media. In fact, of the thirteen sectors that we analyse, Telcos came second bottom, above only Transport. The sector has not been ranked outside of the bottom two sectors since January 2015.

On the face of it, this might feel surprising. Telco & Media organisations have great products that it appears we cannot live without, and they have developed highly sophisticated customer and billing systems, so one might expect service to be slick and smooth to match. Whatever the challenges, it is clear that Telco & Media companies have some basic issues to address.

A review of the latest CSI does not make great reading for the sector. Telcos have a higher proportion of customers who say they’ve experienced a problem than any other sector (18%). The percentage of interactions that are right first time is lower than any other sector except Public Services (Local). Over four in ten (41%) customer problems are to do with the quality/reliability of services, more than in any other sector.

Meanwhile, the proportion of complaints about organisations not keeping promises or commitments has nearly doubled in the last year (to over 10%). The key thing that customers want Telco & Media companies to improve is to make it easier to contact the right person, nearly a third of all responses, the highest of any sector. This may seem bad enough, but separate research The Institute has carried out into broadband services in the UK for small businesses also turned up some worrying results.

We surveyed around 1,000 SMEs across the country and 37% of firms said they lose a day a month of business hours because of poor broadband speeds, while over half (53%) said the quality of their broadband connection had led to frustration in their workforce. At a time when the UK is wrestling with an acknowledged productivity problem, and with the possibility that Brexit, under certain outcomes, could make it worse, we really can’t afford for businesses across the UK to be suffering a loss of business hours due to their broadband. I would like to see the Telco & Media sector redoubling their efforts to improve the customer experience.

I believe that if they really focused on three priority areas they could make a big difference and quickly: Preventing problems from occurring, getting things right first time and responding quickly to problems. Some would argue that these are hygiene factors, but doing this consistently well across all channels is essential Making it much easier for customers to speak to the right person to help, this is an issue across all sectors, but I don’t want to go into a shop to be told I have to do something online, when I am standing in front of a person who should really be able to help me Honouring commitments to customers, especially when there has been a problem It’s also about embedding a customer-centric mind set right through the organisation, not just leaving it to the customer contact centre.

Everyone in the business needs to have objectives that are aligned to improving the customer experience and be incentivised to deliver them as part of the overall business plan. Meanwhile, the broadband problem obviously involves infrastructure issues, but government and service suppliers need to do everything they can to ensure projects are progressing quickly to improve service speeds and reliability.

I hope we will see the Telco & Media sector rising through the ranks of our UKCSI in the future, they could be shining examples of excellent service if they focus on fixing the basics as well as continuing to innovate.

Jo Causon

Jo joined The Institute as its CEO in 2009. She has driven membership growth by 150 percent and established the UK Customer Satisfaction Index as the country’s premier indicator of consumer satisfaction, providing organisations with an indicator of the return on their service strategy investment.

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