As Australian businesses and consumers grow frustrated with their telecommunications providers, amid service disruptions and slow speeds, responsive customer support stands out as a driving factor behind customer satisfaction.
While overall complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) were down 10 per cent in the first quarter of 2023-24, compared to the previous quarter, the number of unresolved cases leapt 20 per cent as Australians struggled to get satisfactory service from their telco.
"No or delayed action by provider" accounted for more than 70 per cent of all TIO complaints, 45 per cent of escalated complaints and 46 per cent of unresolved complaints, remaining one of the most difficult issues for telco customers to address even after engaging the ombudsman.
Customers Left Hanging
At its annual member forum in November, the TIO also reported that language barriers can further increase this frustration, as non-English speaking customers struggle to convey the problems they are facing and get issues resolved by their internet service provider.
Unresolved internet outages leave people disconnected and businesses in disarray, with the impact extending from point-of-sale outages to transport disruption. Customer dissatisfaction is not only due to the shortcomings of connection technologies but also the lack of initiative and transparency from their service providers, says Philip Luo, CEO of Occom, one of Australia's highest-rated internet service providers.
Luo established Occom in Sydney in 2016 with the clear intention of exceeding Australian expectations when it came to customer service.
“After a thorough examination of Australia’s technological landscape and support offered by local service providers, we identified an opportunity to effectively rectify customer experience issues by implementing a comprehensive, multi-lingual and omni-channel support platform.”
Connectivity Adding to Frustration
Another factor driving business and consumer dissatisfaction is the speed and reliability issues of NBN connection technologies such as fibre to the node (FTTN) and fibre to the curb (FTTC), which still rely on sections of the old copper telephone network.
TIO complaints are down from their levels at the height of the rollout of the national broadband network, which saw some businesses and homes left without fixed-line services for months as NBN Co worked to bed down the multi-technology mix's array of last-mile connection technologies.
Customer complaints at the height of the NBN rollout were not just due to technical issues but also the red tape which saw homes and businesses left in limbo – with no one wanting to accept responsibility for restoring their previous service while they waited for the NBN connection issues to be rectified.
NBN Co's offer of a full Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) upgrade, available to many homes and businesses currently relying on FTTN and FTTC, is helping address some customer issues when it comes to connection faults, as well as internet speed and reliability. NBN Co is on track to offer the upgrade to up to 10 million homes and businesses by the end of 2025, covering 90 per cent of addresses across the country.
"While upgrading more businesses and homes to FTTP will fix some speed and reliability issues, the upgrade fails to rectify the pervasive challenge of sub-par customer service that plagues the experience of countless Australians," Luo says.
Demanding a Better Service
Occom stands out as a top-rated Australian internet service provider (ISP), evidenced by more than 6000 5-star Google reviews, and total reviews averaging 4.9 out of 5 stars. Its rapid growth and commitment to exceptional service have earned it consecutive listings in the AFR Fast 100 in 2022 and 2023.
Occom's average wait time to speak to a support team member is 17 seconds, with around 80 per cent of calls answered in under 20 seconds. This extends to swift response times and resolutions for business customers who cannot afford disruptive connectivity issues.
It prioritises responsive customer service through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage and WeChat - as well as the traditional support channels - offered in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Hindi, Korean, Malaysian and Japanese.
Traditionally, Australians are reluctant to move away from a brand they have always been with, and this is particularly evident in the telecommunications industry, Luo says. This hesitation to switch, despite ongoing dissatisfaction, suggests a gap in consumer awareness of available alternatives.
He advises businesses and consumers to look for service providers that meticulously push for solutions and excel in delivering exemplary customer service marked by unparalleled attention, responsiveness, and satisfaction.
While ongoing challenges in Australia's internet and mobile services remain, Luo says there are companies committed to supporting all customers by swiftly resolving issues. The communications landscape is evolving, with a growing emphasis on accountability and solution-oriented approaches.
"More Australians are recognising the benefits of engaging with customer-centric service providers," he says, "where the emphasis is not just on competitive pricing, but also on rapidly addressing and resolving issues, thereby significantly enhancing the overall customer experience.".
"This focus on service quality, which is increasingly recognised in the market, may prompt consumers to look beyond traditional options and consider the benefits of making a switch.
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OCCOM—Optical Communication Expert
Occom is an Internet service provider dedicated to delivering faster fibre and mobile services and faster support. Occom has been praised by tens of thousands of satisfied residents and businesses, and our products have attained commendation from industry experts. As one of the fastest growing telcos endorsed by top global and Australian financial media, Occom has set the bar for exceeding Aussies’ expectations towards customer service. Occom’s young, passionate and professional team will keep on pushing the boundary for what is possible in the future.
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