UK ISPs Failing To Offer Basic Level Of Customer Service

Although the UK is one of the fastest growing and most competitive broadband markets in the world, an independent audit has uncovered that the majority of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are failing to deliver a basic level of customer service. In a mystery shopper exercise, customer service specialist Talisma contacted 50 UK ISPs by email and phone.

The results were alarming for an industry that specialises in online communication: almost 50% of emails were ignored; only 12% of ISPs could track emails once they had been received; and 84% did not give staff a unified view of customer interactions across multiple channels.

Talisma's audit awarded each ISP a score out of 100, based on a range of customer service criteria, including speed of response, accuracy of information provided, and the personalisation of interactions.

Surprisingly, some of the most popular ISPs languished at the bottom of the league table due to their lack of email response, inaccuracies in the information provided, limited personalisation on calls or emails, and not extending communication channels to include live chat. In contrast, some of the smaller ISPs revealed they had grasped the basics of good customer service. The average score overall was an inadequate

54 out of 100.

Talisma's audit also revealed the following worrying results:

* Only 6% of ISPs personalised telephone calls by addressing the caller by name

* Only 16% provide online chat facilities

* 78% do not offer self-help/frequently answered questions on their website

"Selecting a broadband ISP is similar to choosing an electricity or gas provider; customers are primarily concerned about the price rather than who provides the service. In this high-churn commodity market, good customer service is vital for ISPs to differentiate themselves and encourage customer loyalty. Response times are critical and delays in answering calls and emails impact customer satisfaction significantly.

This challenge will only increase as channels such as SMS and live chat are demanded as a basic service from increasingly sophisticated customers," said Jon McNerney, vice president international operations at Talisma.

"The key is in providing a consistent customer experience across multiple channels, to support enhanced service efficiency, boost customer confidence, and improve retention efforts. However, only 16% of the ISPs audited have a unified view of customer interactions.

Those companies that don't support multiple communication channels and integrate their data to provide a complete customer service will struggle to compete," concluded McNerney.