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September 16, 2015

Are legacy systems the cause of telco customer failings?

Smaller Three is beating its mobile rivals in customer service.

By Vinod

Telecoms companies are among the worst rated companies in Which?’s latest consumer report.

In the poll of 100 of the UK’s biggest brands, assessing them across five categories, Vodafone was lowest on the list among mobile operators, tied at 95th place with Ryanair with a score of 66 percent. EE was next lowest on the list at 94th place with a score of 68 percent.

O2’s prioritisation of customer service seemed to have paid off to some extent in the survey, as the operator achieved a score of 72 percent and came joint 67th, considerably higher than Vodafone and EE.

However, Three overwhelmingly beat its rivals with a score of joint 42nd and a customer service score of 75 percent.

Where Three differentiated was in the knowledge of its representatives and the access to customer support, the survey revealed.

The poorer performance from EE was due to perceptions of how it valued its customers, its ability to resolve complaints and problems and access to customer support, with Vodafone also being punished for the helpfulness of staff.

In the fixed arena, BT came 98th with a customer service score of 63 percent, while rival TalkTalk did slightly better at 97th position with a score of 64 percent. Sky beat both with a rating of 73 percent.

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Overall friendly and helpful staff were most appreciated by customers, followed by good knowledge and speed of service. The most disliked traits were call centres outside the UK, automated telephone systems and being passed from person to person on a call.

A report by Strategy&, the PwC consulting team, suggests that Three’s ability to provide better service is at least partly due to its size.

"For many companies, however, complex legacy architectures and systems and legacy products and services stand in the way of making meaningful inroads into the digital experience.

"Indeed, because of their size and relative agility, smaller telecom companies appear to be better prepared to pivot away from older systems and provide truly customer-friendly business processes."

The authors advised companies that a complete change in strategy was needed.

"For telecom providers, incremental efforts are unlikely to remedy the situation. Instead, companies must completely redefine their relationship with their customers.

"They must prove that they can offer high-quality, state-of-the-art, and reliable communications services; popular and fresh content on mobile and desktop platforms; and consumer-friendly websites with online billing, troubleshooting, scheduling, and account support. They also should sell their expertise in security, identity authentication, and billing to their business customers."

In the report, friendly and helpful staff came out top of shoppers’ customer service likes, followed by good knowledge of the product or service and speed of service. But topping customers’ gripes was call centres not based in the UK, automated telephone systems and being passed around lots of different people.

The survey in total polled 3,501 members of the public in May 2015.

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