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Ofcom says firms need to “up their games” in complaints handling

Communications regulator reveals latest figures on customer satisfaction

Ofcom has just released its latest figures on broadband customer satisfaction in the UK.

Level of satisfaction with broadband services

The survey found that:

“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).

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 be satisfied with how their complaint is handled.”

Last year TalkTalk was found to be joint worst with Virgin Media. Followers of me on Twitter will know that I was not shocked to see VM at the bottom.

The BBC reported that “A spokeswoman for TalkTalk said the data showed an “improving trend” on the number of complaints.” But on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ofcom’s director of market intelligence, Ian Macrae, pointed out the obvious saying “It’s hard for TalkTalk to hide from the fact that their customer service isn’t up to scratch”. He also added “”We absolutely think that the firms need to up their games in the way they handle complaints.”

chart showing Talk Talk above average for complaints

Plusnet (owned by BT) complaints more than doubled in the last quarter of 2018 when it experienced problems with the launch of a new billing system.

The report describes how only HALF of those who make a complaint are happy with the result. This is no surprise to me given the large number of times I still get asked to help with telecom complaints. The total number of complaints to Ofcom about broadband actually fell by 23% in the survey.

Level of satisfaction with mobile services

The Ofcom survey on mobile services showed little change from the previous year.

93% of mobile customers are satisfied with their overall service (last year this was 91% so a small increase) and 3% said they were unhappy.

This is probably due to it being easier to change contracts (no email addresses to worry about unlike your broadband provider!) and yearly contracts. The 3% are probably those who are in a contract that they can’t yet leave. The survey reported that:

“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).

Most likely to recommend chart

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.”

Sky Mobile, a newcomer to the market, entered the league table for the first time and did so with the fewest complaints.

I am surprised to see EE where it is. It is the only company that I have left and never returned to in any sector wholly due to its poor customer service. That was a couple of years ago, perhaps they have since improved.

Complaints to Ofcom overall

Complaints to Ofcom about broadband firms actually fell by 23% last year from the previous year. Complaints about mobile companies fell by 15%.

However, satisfaction with mobile reception is increasing across the board (87%, up from 84% last year).

Sky is the least-complained about provider across all four services – broadband, landline, mobile and pay TV. I have to say it is also the company about which I hear fewest complaints.Graph of providers with satisfaction levels over quarters

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.”

Table of providers and satisfaction levels

Ombudsman Services

Matthew Vickers, chief executive of Ombudsman Services, which is approved by Ofcom to resolve broadband and phone complaints, said:

“For many people, broadband and phone access is an essential utility like energy, so it’s vital that providers offer good customer service and fix problems quickly when they do happen.

“Consumers can escalate unresolved broadband and phone complaints to us after eight weeks and, if their provider is signed up to our scheme, we will investigate. If we uphold the complaint, we will require the company to take action to put things right.

We are keen to work with communications providers to help them improve their complaint handling and customer service more generally, in order to raise standards across the industry.”

The future for telecoms complaint handling

The Ofcom report notes that the handling of customer complaints could be improved “across the industry”, with only half of those who make a complaint to any provider ending up happy with the result.

I’ve said for many years that the communications sector is the worst for communication! Companies make it difficult for people to contact them. For example, a few months ago I was trying to deal with something on Twitter with Virgin Media and was actually told to contact them during certain times of the day. The person responding couldn’t actually answer the simple question! Ridiculous!

And how about Vodafone, a huge multinational communications provider, which does not even have an email address available to reach its customer service department? It isn’t alone.

I regularly hear about the whole complaints process with any telecom provider being tedious. I’m yet to see or hear of anyone who has said that customer service from their provider has improved at all. Ever!

Further help

If you are experiencing a problem with your telecom provider or think you are likely to in future, then bookmark this page!

lap top on womanAll you need to know about complaining to telecom providers is full of links to different posts with lots of information and advice about various situations and what to do to get solutions.





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How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!  gives more information, advice, tips, consumer laws, rights, regulations, stories and template letters for complaining about the telecom and numerous other sectors.

Help for business

The Complaining Cow logo, complaints, consultancy, speaker, workshops and moreHelen Dewdney is The Complaining Cow and has the ear of many customers. She helps businesses improve customer complaint handling and customer service to improve complaint handling through customer perspectives and challenge to gain and retain customers. If you are interested in working with Helen see Services for a variety of innovative solutions to your business needs. You can contact her with your own ideas too of course!










Business Companies customer service Complaining about customer service Complaining about faulty goods social media

Why CEOs should have a presence on social media

What company CEOs are on social media?


Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest logos

Most CEOs aren’t on social media. Or if they are, not under their real name! But at a time when social media plays such a huge part in many people’s lives this can be very short sighted.

Greg Jackson CEO of Octopus Energy is on Twitter

Greg Jackson against a wallGreg Jackson, the CEO of Octopus Energy, says that he spends about 30 – 60 minutes a day responding personally to customers, mostly by email but he does also respond on Twitter:

A quick look through the replies on his timeline shows that customer satisfaction is high and that people complaining are getting a response and issues are getting resolved.

When a consumer contacts a CEO on Twitter

When Jonathan had a problem with the courier CollectPlus he took to Twitter to complain. He copied in Neil Ashworth the CEO when he tweeted. The company responded, twice…

Jonathan said “I value the personal response of a CEO much more than a general response from the CEO’s Office or Escalated Complaints Team, as he has seen my complaint and taken time out to respond. The message hasn’t been filtered by a team of people, most likely resulting in the CEO never seeing the complaint.”

The CEO and the personal touch

You can’t underestimate this personal touch. How many of these responses get retweeted so potential customers see how CEOs personally respond to complaints? This extra step is good for image, reputation and you benefit. You get to see what the common issues are, you are keeping in contact with customers AND practising what you preach when you say that customers are the most important part of your business. If that’s the case, why aren’t your most senior people talking to them?

It can even help with business-to-business enquiries. Having your CEO accessible on social media provides other opportunities beyond dealing with customers. For example she/he may spot new business opportunities through interacting with the bosses of other companies.

CEOs being accessible

CEO’s really should be more accessible. Marcus Williamson – the editor of the consumer information website – would like to see more CEOs using social media as part of their interaction with customers. “Being active on social media allows CEOs to easily take the pulse of the company’s social media efforts. Monitoring by the CEO will ensure that management can react quickly when customer service response times fall or answers to customers are inadequate.”

On his website,he provides a list of UK companies on Twitter, including CEO Twitter accounts where available.

Companies on social media discussed on BBC Breakfast

BBC Breakfast Helen Dewdney and Steph discuss complaining on social media 06/07/16

Take action with your CEO!

So what are you waiting for? Get your CEO onto Twitter. Show them the benefits. Spending a relatively short time to get to know your customers on social media can quickly reap more rewards than endless time-consuming strategy meetings…

The Complaining Cow – free support for businesses

It takes 5 times as much to gain a new customer to retain one. So work on turning your customers into superfans who do much of the heavy lifting for you!

Join the Facebook Group Increase Sales through Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve customer service.

Free download Customer Service 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals a few tweaks to your customer service can help you reduce the risk to your company’s reputation, finances and impact on customers and increase sales.

Customer Service how to turn customers into superfans raving about your products/services

The Complaining Cow Services

To see how The Complaining Cow can help you improve your customer service see Services.

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Download the  Tesco & The Complaining Cow case study.

When you should complain to the chief executive – and how best to do it  article in The Telegraph by Helen Dewdney covering CEOs who respond personally to emails and letters.


man looking at phone is your CEO on social media?