Customer service

Improve customer service – our challenge

In recent years the function of customer service teams and the way they work has changed fundamentally. Whereas in the past they mainly handled contact by telephone, nowadays customers can e-mail, chat and ask questions via Twitter, Facebook or Hyves. However, customer service teams still do not enjoy a good reputation. In 2010 the media, and subsequently politicians too, focused a great deal of attention on this issue and there were calls for improvements to be made. What developments have there been in the meantime in the telecom sector?

In 2010 Dutch MPs put questions to Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch Minister for Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, concerning the quality of customer service call centres. The Minister indicated in a letter to the Dutch Lower House that he would not be arguing in favour of new legislation and regulations. In his view, the government is not responsible for the service provided by companies in a competitive environment. He believes that consumers can vote with their feet if they are unsatisfied with the service they are receiving, and in this way can hold companies to account for poor performance. In practice, however, when they choose a provider consumers mainly focus on price and pay less attention to quality of service.

One promise that the Minister did make was to conduct research into the performance of customer service teams to encourage companies to improve. He also discussed improvements with the industry association, the Customer Service Federation (KSF). During the KSF's annual conference in 2011 the sector signed an agreement in which it promised to make results more transparent in the areas of customer satisfaction, waiting times and call charges.

Research by the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation

In 2011 the results of the customer service survey in the telecom and energy sector conducted by the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation were published. Although the telephone customer service provided by telecom companies was given an average rating of 7, there is still some work to do in the area of waiting times in particular. The average waiting time for people who call telecom companies is over four minutes, twice as long as in the case of energy companies. The survey is being repeated in 2012.

  • 28% of consumers had been in contact with their telecom provider's customer service team in the past six months
  • 7: the average rating given for service
  • 15% of customers said that they did not receive good assistance from their telecom provider
  • In the past financial year the average waiting time was two minutes.
  • 4.3 minutes: the average waiting time
  • 47 cents: the average cost per call