Making switching easier in telecoms
Over the last ten years customers have become less and less likely to put up with poor service. Social media provides a platform to air concerns and the internet and deregulation of many industries has opened up a much wider choice of providers. So, if you don’t like your existing supplier it is theoretically easier to take your business elsewhere.
However while switching in some industries (such as retail) is easy, the time and effort required in other sectors such as utilities, banking and telecoms has tended to mean customers often stick with their supplier rather than change. The objective is to encourage greater competition and help new entrants grow their customer base.
Recognising this issue, new regulations aim to simplify the switching process. In June the Payments Council unveiled plans to ensure bank customers could switch their current accounts in just seven working days, with guarantees that any mistakes would be immediately compensated.
Now Ofcom has unveiled a new system that will make it easier for consumers to switch landline and broadband providers. As part of draft plans that will reduce the cost of changing ISP by up to 80%, the telecoms regulator wants the new provider to lead and manage the switching procedure, rather than the customer. So there will be no need for consumers to contact their existing supplier to gain a switching code. This removes potential delays and any possibility of consumers being pressurised into staying with their current provider. Consultation on the new rules ends on 2 October 2013 and the new process will come into force within the next 12 months.
Potentially this is very good news for consumers as it will make switching seamless and enable them to ensure they are always getting the best deal. What it should also do is act as a wake-up call to telecoms companies. To compete they still need to offer the best products and services, at keen prices, but they also must focus on the overall customer experience. By providing fast, high quality service across every channel and delivering consistent easy to understand information on their products not only will they retain existing customers but they will also win new business from their rivals. Otherwise Ofcom’s plans may well increase their churn rates and hit their revenues moving forward.