Ofcom has urged UK mobile, broadband and landline providers to make improvements to their customer service operations, believing it is taking too long for many subscribers to speak to an advisor when they have an issue.
Although the regulator acknowledged call centres were affected by social distancing measures and staff sickness, the average broadband customer waited 4 minutes 9 seconds to speak to someone – twice as long as 2019 – and mobile phone customers waited 2 mins 7 seconds, up from 1 minute 18.
Meanwhile, only half of all customers were satisfied at how their complaint was handled.
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Ofcom customer service
Ofcom acknowledged the difficulties faced by providers due to Covid-19, and highlighted their efforts to support customers during the pandemic, but said it would expect levels to return to their 2019 levels as soon as possible.
“Telecoms companies adapted quickly to meet soaring demand for their services last year – helping to keep the country connected,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Networks and Communications Group Director.
“But some have struggled with customer service problems. We’re challenging them to act now, so the telecoms industry becomes the gold standard for customer service.”
The findings were the result of Ofcom’s latest review into progress made in delivering commitments made by many of the UK’s major communications providers back in 2019 to put “fairness” at the heat of their businesses. The voluntary pledge stated that each company would go beyond their legal obligations.
Ofcom said most had taken steps to provide fairer deals and clearer information, such as reducing prices for out-of-contract customers on bundled airtime and handset deals and introducing price reviews for those in debt.
However, Ofcom said not all providers offered affordable social broadband tariffs and said there needed to be further progress in identifying and communicating with vulnerable customers.
In general, satisfaction is relatively high in the industry, with eight in ten broadband customers saying they are happy with their service and nine in ten mobile phone users happy with their provider.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.