Have you ever wanted to seek help or advice from an ISP without using the phone line? Perhaps your location (e.g. work) makes it too difficult to use the phone or the providers voice lines might be too expensive, maybe you suffer from hearing problems. Either way, the ability of an ISP to offer fast and effective customer sales and support advice via email is often crucially important.Article Index:
Naturally we were keen to discover whether UK broadband ISPs could still provide an effective and useful level of email support and advice to potential customers. To do this we devised a simple, if admittedly somewhat anecdotal, test that would involve the emailing of several general questions about broadband services to nineteen of the UK’s best known and largely independent ISPs.
How we rated
We decided that the test would need to be conducted over a two week period, thus allowing ISPs plenty of time to get their replies in. The questions were sent in simple text format via two newly created email addresses and from completely different domains (one sent via Gmail), which helped avoid being caught by spam filters. If we failed to receive a reply to the first email then the message would be re-issued from our second address, affording the ISP a second chance.
It’s important to remember that email is not a perfect platform and messages can go missing, thus we decided that ISPs should not suffer a penalty if they replied to the second but not the first message. Naturally we would exclude any auto-responders; instead scoring only began with the first human reply.
The four questions we chose to send ISPs would need to be valid for every provider and require a standard degree of familiarity with the service to answer; they would also need to be answerable by any department of the ISP and the message itself was made to appear as if it had come from an interested consumer. This proved difficult but in the end we came up with these:
To score, we gave each ISP a default of 7 points; any provider responding within the first day would thus gain the full 7 points and any that failed to reply after 14 days would be awarded 0 (i.e. -0.5 per day). Likewise we would award an additional point for each correctly answered question (maximum of 4 for four questions). The best total score would thus be 11.
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