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Customer care and complaint handling research

04 July 2017, Jonathan Levack, Head of Research and Communications
call centre phone paid services authority

Today we published our latest piece of research, commissioned from Futuresight, which looks into customer care and complaint handling in the phone-paid services market, and assesses how complaint handling can be improved to meet consumers’ expectations.

Why was it needed?

Our Code requires providers to respond to consumer complaints quickly and easily. Yet consumers who contact us often complain that they had difficulty contacting a provider or were not treated fairly. We wanted to take an objective, independent look at consumers’ experiences and expectations of complaint handling across the market.

What are the key findings?

The research paints a mixed picture:

  • Complaints about phone-paid services are very prevalent. And more prevalent than complaints about utilities, rail companies and holidays.
  • Complaint handling varies significantly across the market.
  • From a consumer perspective, charity and broadcast services tend to perform well, whereas some digital content services perform less well.
  • A bad experience affects consumer trust and there were claims of loss of trust throughout the study. Trust, as we know, is central to continued consumer engagement. If a consumer’s experience is disappointing or frustrating, they are less likely to engage again, be it with the same service or other parts of the market.
  • Indeed, the research concludes that there is evidence that the market is being held back by high complaint levels and low levels of trust.
  • Likewise, confidence and trust can, and is, maintained if not improved by providers who treat consumers fairly.
  • Ultimately consumers expect to be treated fairly and in many cases their experiences have not matched expectation.
  • As a result, consumers expect more from their mobile network or communications provider, the service provider and us.

So, what now?

There are clearly learnings from this research for all parties. For PSA, we need to communicate better with consumers and complainants alike so that they know what we are doing in response to their concern. We will also be considering a) whether our current requirements meet consumers’ needs and b) whether we need to monitor providers’ complaint handling more effectively and investigate if necessary.

We believe there are findings that industry should look to address too. Consumers expect:

  • Their mobile network or communications provider to help them contact a provider and, where applicable, to be able to stop recurring charges or block numbers.
  • Their mobile network or communications provider to notify them of recurring charges – as opposed to the service provider as is required now.
  • Their mobile network or communications provider to act against service providers who fail to respond.
  • Service providers, above all, to treat them fairly.
  • Service providers to have quick, easy, accessible complaints processes – not one that could be seen as too much effort and is designed to discourage them from complaining.
  • Openly refer those to a third party if their issue can’t be resolved.

As always, we want to work with all stakeholders to ensure that consumers’ expectations are met. After all, consumer confidence is central to a healthy and innovative market.

The full report is available here.

Let us know what you think.

 

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