Tech

Telco Complaints are down – Is customer service actually improving?

It took a swift kick up the bum for the Telcos from the Australian Communications Media Authority a year ago, but complaints to our telcos are on the way down thank goodness.

In all, the Telcos received 1.4 million complaints last financial year – and it should be noted these figures all exclude Optus who upset the regulator somewhat with their figures looking a touch out of line, so they’ve asked for an external eye on those ones.

The best way to measure complaints is the number of complaints compared to the number of active services. In telco world they go by complaints per 10,000 services.

That number is down from 124 to 97 in the space of just under a year. The better news is that the time it takes to resolve complaints is also down by a day.

While the numbers are down, ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin still wants a better performance. “It must be acknowledged however, that complaint levels are still too high.”

Overall though, it’s a clear focus on customer service. “This demonstrates that the initiatives driven by the Government and the sector are gaining traction and customer service is improving,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

Interestingly, NBN complaints are averaging 193 per 10,000 compared to complaints about the older broadband networks which sit at 369.

Where the Telcos have to lift their game is on Voice only services on the NBN. These are households, and let’s be honest, probably primarily the elderly – that do not need internet connectivity, just a phone – which now comes via the NBN.

Those numbers sit at 494. ACMA has asked the telcos to get to the bottom of this, but I’d bet it’s in a big part related to the simple complexity of switching your number over and using a VOIP service compared to the old style. Things like using your phone in a blackout – a big potential issue for that market segment.

The best NBN technology based on the number of complaints? Satellite!

Didn’t see that one coming. Fibre to the Curb suffers worst, though it has had a steep improvement across the year down from 744 in the first quarter to 282 in the last. We can assume that first quarter were the first FttC customers and frankly, that was never going to go well:)

This shows that the maturity of technology does impact the complaint numbers,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“Some of the challenges with the HFC rollout appear to be represented in the complaints data, with complaints peaking in the third quarter at 387 complaints per 10,000 services and declining to 300 in the final quarter.

“Finally, it is good to see that referral rates to the TIO are down to 5.4 per cent from a peak of 10.9 per cent with the total number of TIO complaints remaining high and averaging 24,956 for the year.”

The Telcos have responded to the data through their industry body with Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton saying “We agree with the regulator that these data show that ongoing industry efforts to improve customer service, cooperation, and customer experience are producing positive results,”

It also appears the Telcos are doing more to fix issues fast and by themselves, without customers needing to resort to the Telecommunications Industry Obudsman.

“It is encouraging to note that more than 94% of the contacts made with service providers were resolved directly with the provider and therefore only about one in twenty resulted in a complaint being made to the industry ombudsman,” Mr Stanton said.

Thankfully, they’re not complacent either: “We do agree, however, that complaint levels remain higher than they should be – the industry is committed to continuing the current trend of improvement.

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Telco Complaints are down – Is customer service actually improving?
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