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Too many hanging on the phone: survey

Telcos are being urged to lift their game after a survey found their frustrated customers spend an average of 13 days trying to get a complaint resolved.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network surveyed 1300 telco users and found customers have to contact service providers more than twice to get an issue resolved, with some people having to wait up to two months.

ACCAN chief executive Teresa Corbin says there’s a clear need for improvement.

“We found customers are spending days trying to sort out very straightforward things like changing a plan, updating contact details, and general account inquiries,” she said on Monday.

“It’s time to shift the balance back to telcos so that customers are not carrying such heavy costs to maintain their essential telecommunications services.”

ACCAN wants the telco industry and its regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, to include customer service as part of the current review of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code.

It’s also calling on ACMA to be more active in enforcing customer service standards, and make sure telcos reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve issues and better train their staff to handle complaints.

“Nearly half the complaints received by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman last year identified customer service as an issue, so we know it’s a source of considerable frustration,” Ms Corbin said.

The survey of telco customers, which was carried out between February and March, found Vodafone came out best in dealing with service issues, with 61 per cent of customers describing their experience as positive.

Just over half of TPG, iiNet, Amaysim, Dodo/iPrimus customers said they’d had a positive experience.

However only about 40 per cent of Optus and Telstra customers felt that way.

Customers who went into their telco’s store had the shortest waiting time for their issues to be resolved – eight days – while those who complained via social media waited 15 days.

And while phoning their telco was the most preferred method for customers to get an issue sorted, those who did had to wait 23.3 days for a resolution.

But before the issue was resolved, the customer had to phone their provider an average of 2.7 times, be transferred about three times and spend 1.2 hours on the phone before reaching the right person.

The Communications Alliance, which represents telcos in Australia, said 58 per cent of customers had their issues resolved as a result of their first contact with their provider.

“Recent strengthening of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code now in circulation for public comment – will further improve the situation for telecommunications consumers,” chief executive John Standon said.

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