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How good is your phone and broadband firm? New tool ranks call waiting times, complaint handling and reliability – This is Money

How good is your phone and broadband firm? New tool ranks call waiting times, complaint handling and reliability – This is Money

Households can now compare how their telecoms provider is doing, using a new tool launched by Ofcom.   

It compares data on call waiting times, handling complaints and the reliability of the service of the six main providers and the regulator says it will work as an incentive for customers to shop around and save money.

The tool should also nudge providers into performing better and fixing recurring problems.

86 per cent said they were satisfied with the reliability of their broadband service 

The new tool allows consumers to compare providers based on the following factors; overall satisfaction, provider complaints, ease of contact, complaints to Ofcom and setting up the service.

The regulator used its own complaints data, industry figures and surveys and discussions with more than 15,000 consumers to create the tool and also published its first annual service quality report about the UK’s telecoms providers.

Overall the results of the report were positive with 92 per cent of mobile customers, 89 per cent of landline telephone customers and 87 per cent of broadband customers saying they were satisfied with the service they received.

However, the report revealed that landline and broadband customers had to wait more than twice as long as mobile customers when trying to get through to a customer service agent while calls to technical support teams took two and a half minutes longer on average to answer than sales calls.

Those with Plusnet were kept waiting the longest, an average of seven minutes and 27 seconds, when calling up about broadband with 21 per cent hanging up before getting through.

Customer satisfaction with landline providers was positive at 89 per cent on average 

A spokesperson from Plusnet commented: ‘We’re really disappointed with our performance. We know we’ve not been as good as we need to be so we’ve made a number of changes including recruiting 120 extra staff to our call centres and multi-skilling advisors. 

‘There has already been a marked improvement which we’re confident will continue and show in the next report.’ 

On the other end of the scale, TalkTalk was quickest at answering its landline and broadband calls from customers, taking an average of 47 seconds to answer the phone.

Vodafone received the highest number of complaints in 2016 while EE had the least

For mobile customers, those with O2 were kept waiting the longest, with an average time of two minutes three seconds before the phone was answered while those with Tesco Mobile had to wait just 30 seconds on average before talking to someone.

The report also looked into how satisfied customers were when they complained about their telecoms provider.

Of those who had complained to their provider in the last six months, 56 per cent of broadband and 57 per cent of mobile customers were satisfied with the process while for landline customers it was 62 per cent.

Callers to Plusnet had the longest delays to talk to someone of just over seven minutes

For broadband, Sky customers said they had the highest levels of satisfaction after making a complaint with 61 per cent saying they were happy with the process while TalkTalk had the lowest levels at 51 per cent.

For mobile, Tesco Mobile had the highest level of satisfied customers with a rating of 74 per cent while Vodafone had the least, with just 51 per cent of customers saying they were happy after making a complaint.

Consumers were also asked about the reliability and performance of their telecoms provider. The results were largely positive with 86 per cent saying they were satisfied with the reliability of their broadband service and 83 per cent saying they were satisfied with their online speeds.

It takes an average of seven minutes for customers to get through to Plusnet on the phone

Virgin Media was awarded the top spot for reliability and speeds with a score of 91 per cent for customer satisfaction with BT and TalkTalk at the lower end of the scale with 80 per cent and 71 per cent respectively.

It was a similar story for mobile reception, with 86 per cent saying they were satisfied with their reception.

When looking at switching to a new provider, the report revealed that it took an average of 13 days in 2016 to get a new broadband service up and running, 16 for a new landline service or a landline and broadband service combined.

Ofcom also released data about the performance of 19 popular broadband packages from seven providers. It found that the average UK broadband download speed was 36.2Mbit/s in November 2016, a 7.3Mbit/s annual increase.

Sharon White, Ofcom chief executive, said: ‘We’re determined to help bring about a service revolution in the telecoms sector, where consistency and excellence become the norm, and customers always come first.

‘Today we want to shine a light on how different providers perform, and are challenging the industry to up its game on customer service. We’ll be monitoring closely to ensure industry service standards are raised.’

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home services, said: ‘Nearly everyone owns a mobile phone and uses the Internet to stay connected. 

‘These services have become essential but in recent years we’ve seen worryingly low levels of trust and customer satisfaction, often among some of the biggest broadband and mobile providers.

‘This new report from Ofcom should push providers to raise their game and improve their service. It should also help people to look beyond the headline price to find the companies that are investing in providing a high quality service as well as a ​good price.​’​

Ofcom asked 2,576 consumers their thoughts for the overall satisfaction data, 6,733 for complaints handling satisfaction and 6,000 about the reasons they might complain about their telecoms provider. 

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