Australia’s five largest telcos received more than 88 million enquiries in 2017-2018 and while callers on average waited just under two minutes to speak to someone, one telco’s callers were forced to wait an average of more than six minutes.
The figures, from Australian Communications and Media Authority customer service performance monitoring shows picking up the phone was the most common way for consumers to make contact with their telcos, accounting for 80 percent of customer enquiry contacts, but 8.1 percent of us abandoned a call.
For those calling, the average wait times varied by telco over the course of the year from 44 seconds in the September 2017 quarter for three telcos to more than six minutes in the March 2018 for Telco E.
The report doesn’t identify the individual telcos surveyed who were issued with statutory notices to provide performance data, however Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, TPG and Vocus are Australia’s largest telcos.
Under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code telcos are required to ensure customer service enquiries are dealt with in a ‘timely and effective manner’, keeping average wait times to a minimum and aiming to resolve customer service enquiries at first contact.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin says “We’re shining a light on how the big telcos deal with customer enquiries.
“We consider that telcos can be doing more to give their customers a consistently good customer service experience,” she adds.
Telco E’s average weight time for the entire 2017-2018 period was a sizeable 4.19 minutes – far in excess of any of the other telco’s surveyed, who ranged from just 0.51 seconds to 2.10 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, Telco E also clocked a hefty 15.3 percent call abandonment rate for the full 2017-2018, and 21.2 percent during the March 2018 quarter when it was recording those six minute waits.
Those tenacious enough to hang on, however, were more likely to have resolution to their issues on the first contact with Telco E having a substantially higher rate of first contact resolution than the other telcos surveyed, at 86.0 percent, compared to between 62 percent and 74.0 percent for the remaining telcos.
Call abandonment for the remaining four telcos sat at between 8.2 percent and 4.9 percent for the full year.
“It is clear some consumers are waiting too long for their calls to be answered,” O’Loughlin says.
The ACMA notes that telcos have different strategies for responding to customer service enquiries, which can impact on individual results and may not allow for direct comparisons between the telcos.
“For example, a strategy focusing on resolving enquiries at the first contact may impact on wait time,” ACMA says.
Says O’Loughlin: “The data indicates telcos have different priorities – some have a high rate of first contact resolution, but at the same time have relatively long call wait times.”
Beyond phone enquires, web chat enquiries were most popular, increasing to 15 percent of enquiries for the year. Social media accounted for just 2.7 percent, with email coming in at 1.5 percent.