Telecoms still trailing on customer satisfaction

According to the latest research from the Institute of Customer Service – the UK Satisfaction Index (July 2018) – telecoms continues to sit towards the bottom of industry verticals when it comes to customer satisfaction. While the UK average is 77.9/100 for customer satisfaction across all verticals, telecoms trails in bottom-but-one position at 74.3. Only transport is lower than us (at 72.5).
Things are slowly getting better
There is good news. Firstly, we can only get better. And we are. Just very slowly. We have actually improved 0.3 points since that last report in July 2017. It’s not spectacular, but at least it’s a positive improvement. A year ago we were regarded as being worse than transport, which was a full 0.5 points higher than us, but has dropped 2.0 points in a year.
The vertical market leader is retail (non-food) 
However, despite this small improvement, our performance is pretty bad when you compare it to retail (non-food) at 82.1 and retail (food) at 81.2. Even banking is better than us at 80.4.
The highest rated company in the UK is, somewhat unsurprisingly, Amazon, which achieved a score of 86.7 – excellent even for the sector it works in. The most improved company is Jaguar, whose customer satisfaction rating has gone up by 6.8 points in a year. Now that’s how to improve your business!
Why the top 10 companies rate so highly
The top ten organisations are highly rated because they perform well across the full range of customer metrics and are not just good in one area while ignoring others. That means measuring well in customer effort, trust, ease of contact, employee helpfulness and competence, speed of response (especially via text, webchat and social media), getting things right first time and complaint handling.
Satisfaction is clearly linked to business performance
Are you beginning to see where we, the telecoms industry, are going wrong? Our incentive to get it right is that better customer satisfaction is linked directly to improved business performance. For example, the report reveals:

  • food retailers that outperform their sector average by 1 point, grew their revenues by 6.3%. Those at or below the sector average saw their businesses shrink by 1.7%
  • Banks with higher than average customer satisfaction were better at gaining and retaining customer accounts than their worse performing peers, with an average of 8,675 current account gains compared to an average net loss of 3,457 for those whose customer satisfaction was lower than the sector average.

Telecoms performs well on NPS
Where telecoms has been successful, and can congratulate itself, is that we have converted  NPS detractors into advocates, with only banks and insurance improving more than us. Our sector NPS is 1.7 (compared to retail non-food at 40.5), but has improved by 4.1 points in a year, with advocates up by 2.2 and detractors down by 1.9.
Only transport (1.0) and utilities (-4.9) have lower scores than us.
Top performing UK telcos
The satisfaction index measures the performance of individual companies, and as we could predict, the leader is Amazon at 86.7. They are closely followed by John Lewis at 86.5.
However, telecoms is represented in the top 50 despite having a sector average of only 74.3. The leading telecoms company in terms of customer satisfaction is Tesco Mobile at 84.5, which is the 7th highest company in the UK overall. Giffgaff, meanwhile, makes it to =44th with a score of 81.4. It is notable that both of these companies are MVNOs.
But while Tesco Mobile has improved its score by 1.3 since last year, Giffgaff has seen a 0.3 decline in satisfaction. Tesco Mobile’s performance saw it rise up the rankings from 18th last year to 7th today. While Giffgaff remained at joint 44th.
Four service providers outperform the sector average: Giffgaff, O2, Tesco Mobile and Three.
Insight for B2B telecoms
These figures give B2B service providers something to benchmark their own performance against. It also points to the factors that are important to customers.  When asked how telecoms companies could improve their performance, customers wanted them to:

  • make it easier for them to contact the right person (32.4%)
  • improve website navigation (23.6%)
  • improve billing (21.5%).

Contacting the right person was particularly acute in telecoms, as across all verticals this was cited by 25.4% of respondents as the way companies could improve. Likewise billing was seen as a particular problem in telecoms, as it was only cited by 14% of total respondents but 21.5% in telecoms. The only vertical that seems to have a worse problems with billing than us is utilities where it was the number 1 suggestion for improvement with 29.4% of respondents selecting this as a key issue to resolve.