Customer satisfaction in the UK mobile market lags behind other industries, according to global marketing research firm JD Power.
The JD Power and Associates 2009 report on mobile operators has exposed low customer satisfaction scores, which it blamed on cost cutting measures such as outsourced call centres.
The industry’s average score for service on contracts actually fell last year from 681 out of 1,000 to 675. JD Power’s senior manager of research projects, Ian Giles, said: ‘There has been an outsourcing backlash. UK call centres that have been moved abroad don’t tend to resolve the [customer’s] problem.’
Orange, Vodafone and T-Mobile – who scored below the industry average in both the prepay and contract segments – all have outsourced call centres abroad.
JD Power said a score of around 700 out of 1,000 for customer satisfaction was respectable in its study. Virgin came top in the contract survey with 718 out of 1,000, while O2 was second with 698.
Orange announced a strategy to shelve outsourcing plans last year. CEO Tom Alexander said: ‘After a year’s hard work, the results show that Orange is making great progress by moving up the rankings.’
Meanwhile, a T-Mobile spokesman said: ‘We’re pleased we’ve improved our satisfaction ratings for prepay and pay monthly, and continue to strive to be the best in customer satisfaction.’
A 3 spokesman said the network is ‘disappointed’ by the results and ‘will continue to focus our efforts on improving our services to customers as we develop as a 3G network’.
Virgin top for contracts, while O2 is best for prepay
The operator with the smallest customer base, Virgin, came top in the contract segment with a score of 718 out of 1,000.
Virgin has historically held a strong record for customer service, although cynics have argued it is easier to manage customer service on Virgin’s smaller base of contract customers.
However, JD Power’s senior manager of research projects, Stuart Crawford-Browne, said: ‘If the proposition is right, critical mass isn’t as much of
O2 scored the highest in the prepay segment with 734, followed by Tesco Mobile with 710 and Virgin with 691.
The report found that customer incentives and rewards were key to the top scorers’ success.
The survey is based on responses from 3,325 customers and is in its 12th year. It measures customer satisfaction across six factors: call quality/coverage; offerings and promotions; cost of service; billing or topping up; customer service; and handset.