By: MarkJ - 27 February, 2007 (1:27 PM)
It's no secret that customers of the UK broadband providers have been growing ever more dissatisfied with the service they receive. Point-Topic's latest survey has backed this up, highlighting an almost aggressive drop in service satisfaction:
'The change since our last survey is striking. Within 10 months the satisfaction levels have declined significantly,' says Dr Katja Mueller, Research Director at Point Topic. 'From 92% of respondents saying they were 'very' or 'fairly' satisfied in February 2006 with the service they receive overall, it has dropped to 77% in December 2006.'
Point Topic quizzed users in number of different categories of user satisfaction, including speed of service, billing clarity and value for money. Of particular note was the change in users who reported being 'very' or 'fairly' dissatisfied with the 'after sales support' which went from 7% in Feb 2006 to 18.3% in Dec 2006.
'It suggests that many ISPs are focusing on the rush to gain market share in a rapidly consolidating market at the expense of customer service. In the long-run they may pay dearly for this neglect,' continues Dr Mueller.
It is likely that churn will be a major factor in the consumer broadband market in 2007. Ofcom, the national regulator, introduced 'General Condition 22' on the 14th February 2007 which requires all ISPs to use the 'MAC process' if they receive a migration request from a customer.
The use of the MAC numbers, which will speed up the procedure of changing broadband suppliers, and consumers increasing familiarity with the process suggests that users are more likely to swap their ISP for another if they are unhappy with their service for too long.
'With 25% of respondents telling us that they were ready to churn, ISPs may have their work cut out trying to keep hold of their hard won customers,' concluded Dr Mueller.
We can still recall a time when UK broadband ISPís could barely put a foot wrong, appearing all but immaculate next to the dizzy heights of troubled dialup offerings. Itís a shame to see old trends return, albeit somewhat natural given such an aggressively competitive market.
Hopefully the greater migration freedom now being given to consumers will place added responsibility on ISPís to ensure a good service, lest their users seek refuge elsewhere. However such a change is unlikely to happen overnight and problems will no doubt continue for sometime to come.
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