Australian regulator releases telco contactability report

contactability ACMA
Image by diuno | Bigstockphoto

The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) has released the results of an audit into the contactability of telcos.

The audit reviewed data from 11 telcos for the six-month period January to June 2021 in relation to customer contact and complaints-handling rules. This included three digital-preferred telcos – Optus trading as Gomo, Telstra trading as Belong and Vodafone trading as Felix – that rely primarily on digital contact methods, such as mobile apps and web chat, to support their customers.

Issues that were considered included:

  • methods used by customers to contact telcos
  • average wait times experienced by customers contacting telcos
  • rates of successful resolutions to issues for customers on their first contact with telcos
  • timeframes for acknowledging customer complaints.

Overall, the results were positive, with the ACMA finding telcos were largely compliant with relevant rules under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code and the Telecommunications (Consumer Complaints Handling) Industry Standard 2018.

Over the six-month period consumers made on average 127,486 enquiries to the telcos per day. Apart from the digital-preferred telcos, picking up the phone continues to be the most common way for customers to make an enquiry with their telco.

For 3 of the 4 largest telcos in the audit (iiNet, Optus, Telstra and Vodafone), customers waited on average under 80 seconds in call queues when contacting their telco by phone. This represented an improvement compared to the corresponding period in 2018 when the average was 154 seconds. The other large telco reported a significantly higher average call wait time of over 4 minutes.

The rate for resolving issues at first contact for the 4 largest telcos ranged from 64.4% to 86.4%. There was not a noticeable change in their performance compared to 2018.

The results also identified that 7 telcos were not consistently meeting requirements to acknowledge complaints within minimum timeframes. Additionally, 5 telcos were unable to provide some of the data requested by the ACMA, indicating further potential non-compliance. The ACMA will raise these matters with the respective telcos.

The results indicated that the telcos had recovered strongly from the disruptions caused to their business and call centre operations during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report has been published on the ACMA website.

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