MVNOs beat partners in satisfaction study

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MVNOs outperform networks in customer satisfaction study as traditional operators focus slow to move to customer service

MVNOs Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile outperformed their network partners in a recent customer satisfaction survey, highlighting the need for traditional operators to focus on better customer service according to analysts.

Price comparison site uSwitch and research firm YouGov surveyed 6,721 mobile phone users online and ranked providers for both contract and prepay services on a number of categories, including: network coverage, choice of handsets, customer service, online services, roaming tariffs and value for money,

Virgin Mobile dominated the contract section of the Mobile Phone Customer Satisfaction Awards 2010, coming top in six of the nine categories and claiming an 84 per cent response rate for value for money. Its lowest ranking was fourth for choice of handsets (65 per cent).

In comparison Virgin Mobile’s network provider T-Mobile’s highest placed finish was second in two categories (customer service, 68 per cent and billing services, 80 per cent).

Overall, Virgin Mobile was ranked the best contract mobile phone network, while T-Mobile placed third.

Tesco Mobile dominated the prepay arena in the same way as Virgin Mobile, topping five out of eight categories compared to network partner O2, which topped two categories. Tesco Mobile was also ranked overall best prepay network in the poll, while O2 came second.

Both Virgin Mobile and Tesco Mobile ranked higher for network coverage than their network partners T-Mobile and O2.

Quocirca analyst Rob Bamforth said: “This is a wake up call to operators. It highlights that whilst in the past the most important assets were seen as cell towers and fibre, that’s not the case anymore.

“People measure operators on a broader service experience and if they’re missing certain qualities that others are offering, or are perceived to be offering, then they’re missing a trick.

“Historically operators have been focused on networks and network assets as they had to build them out to meet their commitments. Now they need to focus on services.

“Companies that are perceived to be more service orientated, even though they might be partners, are perceived to be out playing them.”

Bamforth added that if a network choses to be a wholesaler and use MVNOs as its public face then being ranked lower is not an issue, however “no-one wants to be just a vent pipe”.

He said: “Like networks have to be monitored, measured and looked after, so do service levels. They have to be consistent and deliver a high level of customer experience.”

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