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TIO Ombudsman takes a swipe at the telcos: “You have to listen to your customers”

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Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) Judi Jones has taken a massive swipe at the telcos for not listening to their customers after a survey revealed one in two Australians – up to 10 million people – have had an issue with their phone or internet service.

Speaking at the Comms Day Summit today, Ombudsman Jones revealed 2018 research results among almost 3000 people from across the country which showed half of all Australians have experienced phone or Internet problems in the past 12 months.

And one in five, that’s 20 per cent, said they had more than one issue.

“When a consumer cause of the problem, the challenge for telcos is to listen –  and I mean really listen,” she said.

“Make sure you understand the problem from the perspective of the person making the complaint. Try to walk in their shoes.

“What starts off as a simple and easily fixed issue can all too often spiral into a series of miscommunications and confusion between telco and consumer.

“We all have to be proactive and accessible in managing the issues.
“We have to listen to residential consumers and small businesses and understand the impact of problems and offer quick supportive solutions.”

Sadly, one in four complaints were still not resolved after four months according to the TIO research.

“That’s a long time to be without a service,” Jones said.

It’s actually worse for small businesses with almost 60 per cent saying the phone or internet issue had affected their business. And 25 per cent had more than one issue.

“For both residential consumers and small businesses, the majority of issues related to service delivery and in particular the quality or the absence of a service,” Jones continued.

“Problems with Internet services for residential consumers and small businesses also rated highly and are across all networks – so both on legacy networks and the NBN.”

Ombudsman Jones said another issue was people who had a complaint were not clear about how to complain.

Closeup on a man's hands as he is sitting on a sofa and using a smartphone

“Our research tells us that only 12 per cent of people who had a serious issue contacted the TIO,” she said.

“Which means that their complaints could be quickly resolved –  remember 25 per cent of issues were not resolved after four months.”

Ombudsman Jones admitted the TIO needs to do more to ensure people are aware of their service.

“I believe the telecommunication industry needs to take a closer look at what complaint data and our research is telling us,” she said.

“We need to listen. By focusing on complaints, phone and internet providers will be a much better position to understand the needs of their customers.”