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Best and worst telecoms customer service revealed

Tags: Ofcom

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  • TalkTalk broadband customers are less likely than average to be satisfied with their service
  • Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile more likely to be recommended by customers than the biggest four mobile firms

Ofcom today reveals which broadband and phone companies get the best and worst satisfaction scores from their customers.

Our report gives independent insights into the customer service provided by the UK’s major telecoms firms. It is based on detailed customer research and industry data.

Broadband satisfaction

Overall, 83% of broadband customers are satisfied with their service (similar to last year: 80%), while 13% had reason to complain in 2018 (down from 15% in 2017).[1]

TalkTalk scores below the industry average on several measures, with its broadband customers less likely to be satisfied with their overall service and less likely to recommend their provider to a friend.

TalkTalk customers are also more likely to have a reason to complain, less likely to have their complaint resolved on first contact, and less likely to be satisfied with how their complaint is handled.

Across the industry, satisfaction with complaints handling could be improved – only around half of those who make a complaint are satisfied with how it is handled. However, Sky broadband customers are less likely than average to have reason to complain, and more likely to be satisfied with how their complaint is handled.

Mobile satisfaction

Ninety-three per cent of mobile customers are satisfied with their overall service (similar to last year: 91%), with a small proportion (3%) saying they are unhappy.

Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile customers are more likely to recommend their provider to a friend. Their customers also have above-average satisfaction with value for money (97% for giffgaff and 92% for Tesco Mobile, compared to an 87% average).

Vodafone customers, on the other hand, are less likely to be satisfied with value for money (82%), while Virgin Mobile customers have below-average satisfaction with how their complaint is handled. Both companies are also less likely to resolve complaints on first contact.

However, satisfaction with mobile reception is increasing across the board (87%, up from 84% last year). Ofcom’s mobile coverage checker lets people easily see how estimated coverage levels compare across the UK and among different providers.

Complaints to Ofcom

Complaints to Ofcom about broadband firms fell by 23% last year, from 75 complaints per 100,000 customers on average in 2017, to 58 in 2018. Most companies ended 2018 better than (or broadly the same as) they started the year.

However, complaints about Plusnet – owned by BT – more than doubled in the last quarter of 2018. In that period, the company experienced issues with a new billing system it launched.

Complaints to Ofcom about mobile companies fell by 15% last year – from 20 complaints per 100,000 customers on average, to 17 last year.

For the first time, Sky Mobile is included in the mobile league table and enters with the fewest complaints. This means Sky is the least-complained about provider across all four services – broadband, landline, mobile and pay TV.[2]

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: “Shabby service can be more than just frustrating; it can have a big impact on people and small businesses who rely on being connected.

“When you’re shopping around for a phone or broadband service, quality can be just as important as price. This information can help buyers make the right decision.”

Fairness for customers

As well as arming customers with the information they need to choose the provider that’s best for them, Ofcom is also working to improve service quality by introducing:

We have also set out plans to make companies tell people when their contracts are coming to an end, and what their best available deals are. And we are reviewing broadband companies’ pricing practices, examining why some people pay more than others, and how mobile operators charge for handsets when these are bundled with airtime.

1. Satisfaction with overall service, for broadband and mobile, is not statistically different from last year.

2. The actual measurable difference between some complaints figures per 100,000 subscribers is less than one, so EE’s landline result should be considered comparable to Sky’s, as should Tesco Mobile’s and Sky’s results in the pay-monthly mobile sector.

3. We interviewed around 19,000 UK adults in total:

  • 9,517 about complaints handling, via an online panel.
  • 2,547 about customer satisfaction, face-to-face, plus a further 831 online.
  • 6,399 about reasons to complain, face-to-face.

4. Overviews of data for each market are below. Red or green shading indicates significantly lower or higher than the sector average; and arrows indicate significantly lower or higher than the previous year.

Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. We have responsibilities across television, radio, video on demand, telecoms, wireless communications and postal services.