BT, Vodafone, O2, Carphone Warehouse: Bad customer service

BT has been named and shamed as having the nation’s worst customer service, according to a survey from OnePoll. The top 10 UK worst customer service list included Virgin Media at number four, Carphone Warehouse at number five, Vodafone at six and O2 at number 10.

A study of 5,000 people revealed the communications giant BT is almost twice as bad as second place British Gas when it comes to dealing with issues and complaints.

Sky was third on the list. Other corporate colossals to feature in the hall of shame were HSBC, AOL, Barclays and HMRC.

A spokesman for internet market research firm, OnePoll, said: ‘For many, having to deal with customer service reps can be very stressful, and everyone dreads having to make the call. If you are already having a nightmare with the service, and you want to make a complaint, the last thing you want to do is then have to deal with rude staff.

‘Having polite and efficient staff in call centres can really make the difference, and I’m sure it helps keep hold of customers,’ he added.’

Martin Gossling, vice president for business development at Movidilo, provider of self service and value-added multimedia solutions in mobile handsets, commented: “It’s shocking to see that some of the leading service providers in the UK have the worst customer service according to the OnePoll survey. The likes of BT, British Gas and Barclays are supposed to be synonymous with British quality yet they continue to frustrate their customers with poor service.

“It doesn’t take much to improve your customer service, whether employing more people during busier calling times to avoid being on hold for too long, training your staff in dealing with disappointed customers and ensuring tailored responses rather than the same old bland or even rude answers, or even providing access to relevant information via other outlets, such as the mobile phone.

“This poll is a welcome insight into what consumers really think of the so-called leading service providers’ customer service,” he continued. “It’s now up to these companies to take action and start investing in their customer service technology to bring it up-to-speed and up-to-date. Otherwise they’ll end up driving most of their customers away to organisations that have invested,” Gossling warned.

The biggest bug-bear for consumers was the automated systems. Other irritations include being passed around different people and having to repeat the same information.

Foreign call centres with staff who struggle to understand the English language also featured in the list, as did rude staff and having to answer endless security questions.

BT also came top for the longest holding times, with 18% of people voting for the company.

Those who took part in the study believed on average they spent around 23 minutes on the phone trying to sort out problems each time they called. Just over 11% said they regularly spent 30 minutes on the phone to companies.

Phone and utility companies were rated equally as bad as each other in the study, closely followed by banks and retail organisations.

It also emerged six out of ten people have switched companies purely due to a poor level of customer service.

Among the horror stories which emerged were: A man who fell out with BT because an Asian call centre operator said his mild Scottish accent was unintelligible; A couple who were tricked into a package they didn’t want by Orange and were then fobbed off when they tried to cancel during cooling off period; How Virgin Media refused to change the bill into the name of a jilted husband because he didn’t have his ex-wife’s permission – but were more than willing to give him extra services without her permission.

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