Telecommunications industry ‘cops it’

The biggest frustration for customers of the telecommunications industry – rated the worst for customer service in the recent KiwiHost/JRA Customer Service Pulse – was ‘not being able to get hold of the right person to take responsibility for their problem’.

Managing director of JRA (leading workplace survey and analysis specialists), John Robertson, said the finding is consistent with the research carried out in 2007 where over 20% of respondents named the telecommunications industry as providing the worst level of customer service in New Zealand.

“When analysing the comments relating to telecommunications companies, the biggest frustration for customers seems to be getting hold of the companies (or at least getting hold of them within acceptable time frames) and then getting hold of the right person who can actually action or solve a customer’s particular problem,” he said.

Mr Robertson said business was always going to come into criticism in one form or another, particularly organisations which dealt with thousands of customers, but the important thing to remember was that complaining customers can be an organisation’s best asset.

“Feedback, whether positive or negative, is always going to be better than indifference – particularly considering that the survey found that 80% of Kiwi customers rarely if ever complain, but 75% will only give the organisation one or two chances before taking their business elsewhere.”

Some comments about telecommunications to come out of the survey include:

* “You can’t get through to them re: any issues. Put on hold and stay there. I have hung up after 40 minutes.”
* “Complexity of finding the right person to answer the question. Poor product knowledge of frontline staff; left hand disconnected from the right hand.”
* “Very difficult to get contact with. Appear not to want to listen, no accountability for any issues. No pro-activity.”

Kiwihost New Zealand CEO, Jared Brixton, said it was interesting that customers didn’t single out any one telecommunications company, they all ‘copped it’.

“The banking industry on the other hand, the sector which usually gets bagged for being impersonal, actually rated the best – with four different banks ranked in the top five for excellent customer service.”

Some of the comments about banks include:

* “They listen to you; they understand your needs. They come up with alternative options if the one you were looking at isn’t quite right.”
* “Listen to the customer and respond intelligently.”
* “Always ready to listen and help. They remember my name and greetings. Go out of their way to help.”

More than 600 New Zealanders were surveyed on their perceptions of customer service and were encouraged to tell their stories and name names.

“More than 400 companies were named by respondents, and of those, the ASB was tops with 26 positive mentions, followed by Westpac with 22, National Bank 14, ANZ 14 and Harvey Norman in fifth,” he said.