You call this service? Customers strike back

SAM BOYER
Last updated 05:00 10/11/2012

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Customer service in New Zealand is shocking, and it's getting worse, a study has found.

Fewer than half of 600 people surveyed in the latest Kiwihost customer service survey said they were satisfied with the level of customer service, and 36 per cent said it was getting worse.

Telecommunications companies ranked as the worst businesses to deal with, followed by local and central government, and internet service providers.

TelstraClear ranked twice in the bottom three - for both their telecommunication branch and their ISP service - and Slingshot (ISP) was ranked worst.

Eight of the worst-ranked businesses were ISPs and telecoms, with airline Jetstar and HSBC bank also in the bottom 10.

Jared Brixton, Kiwihost managing director, said telecoms and ISPs deserved to be ranked poorly, but the overall direction of the survey was a surprise.

Customer satisfaction had dropped across the board, from 54 per cent in the previous survey to 48 per cent this year.

"It's certainly not trending in the right direction.

"It's had a 6 per cent drop since 2010. Overall, we [New Zealand] are pretty poor in terms of customer service worldwide.

"As far as the ISPs and telecoms go, they really are not doing well at all. They're focused so firmly on the bottom line . . . It [customer service] just doesn't seem to be their focus. They know that everyone needs a landline and broadband, and they've got to go somewhere."

TelstraClear spokesman Gary Bowering said its customer service "took a hit" earlier in the year because of an unexpected response to its "industry-leading" $75-a-month phone and broadband package.

"We apologised to customers at the time. Since then, our customer service has again improved," he said.

However, Mr Brixton said that, in general, customer care in New Zealand was poor.

"Certainly my view is when I'm out shopping I'm very rarely wowed by customer service. When it does happen it's something that stands out. It shouldn't be that infrequent when it happens."

Six of the 10 best-ranked companies were airlines, with Air New Zealand the best-ranked company. Jetstar, however, was in the bottom five - the only airline with a negative customer service rating.

Banks ASB, BNZ and ANZ National, and telco 2Degrees rounded out the top 10.

A Jetstar spokesman declined to comment directly on its poor showing in the survey, but said the airline was receiving "good support" from the public.

"We know that New Zealanders enjoy choice and competitive prices on domestic and international flights and we're getting good support for our everyday low fares and our growing network and frequency."

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- The Dominion Post

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