Australia's biggest telcos have set a low bar for customer service across the country, according to a report by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), which found that customers were unimpressed with how much time it took to resolve issues.
The communications consumer advocate group ranked Australia's eight most popular telcos and two largest satellite broadband providers based on customer satisfaction.
Vodafone fared the best, with 61 percent of customers saying they had a positive experience with the telco, followed by TPG, iiNet, Amaysim and Dodo/iPrimus, which all had just over 50 percent of customers responding positively.
Australia's two largest telcos, Telstra and Optus, had just 43 and 42 percent satisfaction rates respectively.
The lowest ranked telcos were Belong, which is Telstra's budget telco brand, and regional satellite provider Active8Me. Both had 36 percent satisfaction ratings. Regional satellite competitor SkyMesh received 46 percent.
The highest ranked telco would have been Virgin with 70 percent, however, parent company Optus has already started phasing out the brand which will be gone in the next two years.
The report also found that telcos took an average of 13 days to fix reported issues, which could stretch out to two months for some harder-to-resolve issues.
ACCAN chief executive Teresa Corbin said there was an obvious need for improvement within the industry.
"Poor customer service by the industry shifts costs from providers to their customers, who are experiencing loss and disruption by spending far too long trying to resolve issues," she said.
"We found customers are spending days trying to sort out very straightforward things like changing a plan, updating contact details, and general account inquiries. This is not acceptable. It’s time to shift the balance back from telcos to customers so that customers are not carrying such heavy costs to maintain their essential telecommunications services."
ACCAN recommends that the telco industry and its regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, refresh how they view customer service now that the Telecommunications Protections Code is up for review, along with the introduction of ACMA's new standard for handling complaints.
"We’d like to see more concrete obligations in the code, and more active enforcement by the regulator," Corbin said.
ACCAN also gave specific recommendations for telcos to improve customer satisfaction, including reduced timeframes to resolve issues and contact customer services staff, increased first contact resolution and improved training and performance for staff.
The survey asked 1347 customers about their experiences with their telco provider between 20 February and 14 March. All respondents were customers of the eight largest telcos and two largest satellite providers.