Best and worst telecoms customer service revealed
New research published by Ofcom highlights which phone and broadband companies are setting the industry standard for good customer service.
- Ofcom research shines a light on how well phone and broadband companies serve their customers
- Tesco Mobile tops mobile satisfaction rankings, while Plusnet performs best for overall satisfaction with broadband
- The average number of customer complaints to Ofcom about broadband, mobile and landline providers fell in 2019
Our annual customer service report (PDF, 2.9 MB) looks at how each of the major telecoms providers performed last year on measures including customer complaints received, value for money and overall customer satisfaction.
It offers an independent insight into what level of service phone and broadband customers can expect, helping them shop around for a provider that meets their needs. The data is based on how companies performed up to January 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded.
Which broadband companies have the most satisfied customers?
Overall, 85% of broadband customers say they are satisfied with their service.
Twelve per cent of broadband customers say they had a reason to complain about their service or provider, in line with 2018 – although people were more likely to be happy with how their complaints were handled than in 2018 (up to 53% from 49% in 2018).
Plusnet customers reported higher than average overall satisfaction with their broadband service. This is despite having to wait longer than average for their calls to be answered.
TalkTalk customers were less likely than average to be satisfied with their overall service and with the reliability of their service. They were also less likely than average to recommend their provider to a friend, and less likely than average to be satisfied with how their complaint was handled. Virgin Media customers had to wait the longest for their calls to be answered (4 minutes 26 seconds on average) and were the also less likely than average to be satisfied with how their complaint was handled.
Which mobile companies have the most satisfied customers?
Overall, more than nine in 10 customers say they are satisfied with their mobile phone service, with only 3% of customers saying they had a reason to complain (down by one percentage point since 2018).
Tesco Mobile customers reported higher than average levels of overall satisfaction and were more likely than average to recommend their provider to a friend. Tesco Mobile customers also reported higher than average satisfaction with reception and value for money.
Three customers were less likely than average to be satisfied overall and less likely than average to recommend their provider to a friend; they also had the longest average call waiting times and were less likely than average to be satisfied with their reception.
Which home phone companies have the most satisfied customers?
Overall, more than eight in 10 customers say they are satisfied with their landline service. Only 4% of landline customers say they had a reason to complain, an increase of one percentage point since 2018.
BT customers reported higher than average levels of satisfaction with the reliability of their landline service and higher satisfaction overall. While Virgin Media customers reported lower than average levels of overall satisfaction and also experienced the longest average call waiting times.
Lindsey Fussell, Consumer Group Director at Ofcom, said: “Checking the quality of a phone or broadband provider’s customer service can be the difference between you signing up to a company that keeps you connected, or one that falls short.”
“Our research helps people to easily compare how providers perform on customer service, so they can choose the one that’s best for them.”
Automatic compensation update
Alongside this report, we’ve also published the findings from a review of our automatic compensation scheme. The voluntary scheme was introduced in April last year to ensure that, when things go wrong, people get money back from their provider without having to ask for it.
The scheme works like this:
Between July and December 2019, our automatic compensation scheme saw over £20.7 million paid out to broadband and landline customers who experienced problems with their services. This is more than double the £8m we estimated was paid out over an equivalent six-month period before the scheme was in place.
The following providers are currently part of the scheme:
- Talk Talk
- Virgin Media
- Zen Internet
- Utility Warehouse
We strongly urge other providers to join the scheme to ensure that as many customers as possible can receive compensation when things go wrong.
Participating companies in the scheme have now committed to annual increases in compensation in-line with inflation (CPI) from April 2021. That means that people will continue to receive a fair amount in compensation when things go wrong. We will continue to monitor how the scheme is operating to make sure customers are being treated fairly.
People can find simple, handy tips on improving their broadband or mobile service on our website.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- Overviews of key data for each market are below. Red or green shading indicates significantly lower/higher than the sector average.
- Both reports cover the period before or during January 2020, before the Covid-19 lockdown period.
- We also publish data on the number of complaints Ofcom receives about providers quarterly.
- Virgin Media is marked as higher than average at 14% while TalkTalk, EE and Plusnet are not, because their results are not statistically significantly different from the average due to smaller base sizes.
- Complaints handling fieldwork was conducted between 4 December 2019 and 6 January 2020 and asked about complaints made in the past six months (between June 2019 and January 2020).
- Reasons to complain fieldwork was conducted between 8 January 2020 and 28 January 2020 and asked about reasons to complain in the past 12 months (between January 2019 and January 2020).
- The average number complaints per 100k customers fell in 2019 across all three markets (from 17 to 13 for mobile, 58 to 52 for broadband and 43 to 38 for landline).
- Separate to our automatic compensation review, our recent review of how our minimum service quality rules have impacted Openreach’s performance for fixing broadband and landline faults found that each time we increased minimum service targets repair levels increased by 2.6%. This translates into 136,000 fewer late repairs in 2019.
- The data collected on the level of compensation between July and December relates to the five original signatories (BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet) and does not include Utility Warehouse and Hyperoptic who joined later.
- The £8 million compensation figure is taken from our Automatic Compensation consultation: and converted from annual to 6-month averages. Figures represent averages across the period Q3 2014 to Q2 2016.
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