Telcos are under the gun from Consumer NZ

Internet providers are doing a worse job with customers more likely to be dissatisfied, according to an annual survey by Consumer NZ.

It said satisfaction in their overall services had dropped 6 percentage points to 68 per cent over the past year, based on a poll of more than 10,000 of its members.

Vodafone and Spark had "a long way to go" before their customers felt satisfied with their services, it said.

Consumer NZ said the feedback showed an overall decline in perceptions of network reliability, but Spark spokeswoman Lucy Fullarton said that did not marry with independent reports from the likes of Wellington testing company TrueNet which indicated Spark's network was "stacking up really well".

Spark would nevertheless study the report and was always looking to improve its services, she said.

Vodafone spokesman Brad Pogson said it had invested significantly in its fixed and mobile networks over the past year and in January TrueNet had said its cable customers had the best webpage download times.

2degrees was the "standout" mobile network provider, Consumer NZ said.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin confirmed the company had paid about $20,000 to become accredited as a "Consumer Trusted" business but said that could have "absolutely no influence whatsoever" on its survey findings.

Inspire Net, which Consumer NZ ranked as among the top three internet providers, alongside Actrix and Snap, had also paid for the accreditation, Chetwin said.

Concerns telcos might drop the ball on customer service came to a head last month when Vodafone announced plans to cut 100 customer service positions and terminate the roles of dozens of contractors by March, while making more use of outsourced contact centres in Manila. 

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Spokesman Craig Jones denied customer service would suffer. He said the company had revisited its expectation that it might repatriate all its remaining customer service operations from the Philippines in the wake of lower-than-expected growth in the telco market.

When Vodafone acquired TelstraClear in 2012, researcher IDC had been forecasting the market would grow by 2 per cent annually, but it was now expecting the market to shrink by 2.5 to 3 per cent annually, he said.

"This decline has been driven by unprecedented levels of competition in the New Zealand mobile and fixed line market, and has resulted in the need for telcos, like Vodafone, to look at the most cost-effective way of providing services to our customers," he said. 

"We will be investing significantly in simplifying our customer systems and processes, supporting customers to use self-service tools, and using our service centre in the Philippines to handle more simple customer requests." 

 - Stuff

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