“The way in which the telecommunications industry in Australia deals with its customers must change, and change immediately.”
That’s the stark finding from the recently released Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) report into the telecommunications industry, which was sparked by the increasing number of customer service complaints made about service providers in recent years.
Now that the dust has settled a bit, we can look more closely at the detail of the report and it turns out that there is a significant and somewhat unexplained contradiction in the industry. It seems that consumers are generally satisfied with the quality and service reliability, a good achievement in light of the huge growth in users and complexity of services, but there is a real (and angry) dissatisfaction with the customer service experience.
Overseas the growth and complexity of services has been much the same, although there is often a greater number of service providers, but there doesn’t seem to be the same problems with customer dealings.
The question, as the report poses, is why is the quality of customer care being provided by telecommunications companies failing to meet consumers’ expectations when the services they provide generally do?
The answer maybe something quite unexpected: many service providers don’t even realise they have a customer service problem. Customers and industry commentators and now the ombudsman and regulator see a problem, but many telcos do not. It turns out that aside from a number of the larger service providers, there was little response to the inquiry from the vast bulk of the sector, according to the report.
Improving the understanding of what constitutes a good customer experience within many telcos may be the first step in improving the general level of customer service. It seems that the answer isn’t to be found with stronger industry codes from the regulator, at least not to start with, but creating an awareness of the nature of the problem and how to provide effective customer service.
Next time, Investigator will look at how ACMA proposes to improve customer outcomes by supporting industry action, setting minimum service expectations and looking at intervention through lifecycle phases of the customer service experience.
What do you think will improve customer service? Add your comment below.