Fixed-line providers have emerged as the second least customer-centric industry in a report from international marketing consultancy dunnhumby, investigating consumer attitudes towards customer service. Mobile operators fare slightly better, but are still seen to be more customer-distant than customer-focused.
The research investigates eight sectors mobile phone operators, fixed line telecom providers, electricity suppliers, airlines, supermarkets, car insurers, credit card providers, and high street banks and ranks specific brands according to how customer-centric consumers believe each to be.
Every organisation surveyed was given a positive or negative score, based on five key factors considered by consumers when determining what constitutes good customer service. The five factors are: good staff; good customer service; accessibility; relevant marketing; and they understand and value me. Companies scoring zero or above are defined as customer centric, while companies scoring negatively are customer-distant. A sample of 1,300 consumers contributed their views on 58 major companies.
The mobile sector came fifth out of the eight sectors. Interestingly, operators occupy positions at both extremes of the customer-centric/customer-distant spectrum. Virgin Mobile was found to be the second most customer-focused company of all the organisations surveyed, achieving a rating of 0.17, behind Nationwides score of 0.26. After a large gap, O2 came next with a rating of 0 (joint 26th). Orange achieved an average rating of -0.02 (joint 28th), followed by T Mobile with -0.03 (joint 30th) and Vodafone at -0.04 (38th). Languishing at the bottom of the pile was 3 with a score of -0.26 and a ranking of 58th, just above NTL, which finished bottom of the rankings.
In order to improve their customer centricity, fixed line telecoms providers need to ensure that their customer propositions remain relevant over time and find news ways to engage and interact with their customers says dunnhmby Director of Consumer Strategies and Futures, Martin Hayward. In general, they need to make better use of customer data to put customers at the centre of their business strategy. Mobile providers have on the whole got this nailed. Where they need to concentrate is on balancing product innovation with delivering high levels of customer service particularly ensuring that their marketing campaigns help to de-mystify technology for customers.