TalkTalk may not have found itself at the bottom of Ofcom's customer satisfaction research this year, but it still gained the highest percentage in some "dissatisfaction" levels.
The broadband provider, which has in the past been slated as the worst for customer service, gained 18 percent dissatisfaction, the highest recorded by Ofcom in overall satisfaction with customer service by landline a provider. It was pipped to the post by Orange, which came out with 20 percent dissatisfaction in overall satisfaction with a fixed broadband provider.
Overall, the broadband industry fared badly. Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, told us there's plenty more work to be done in the sector.
Ofcom claimed that overall, satisfaction with customer service remained lowest in the fixed broadband market, with 62 percent of those asked complaining it wasn't good enough.
Doku also pointed out that although TalkTalk had "avoided the dreaded bottom spot, the provider still has more to do to win over consumers", and that its score is below average.
The story wasn't much better in the mobile space. Ofcom found there are now more mobile customers who are dissatisfied with the standard of customer service, with a total of 14 percent admitting they weren't happy in 2012 - compared to nine percent in 2009.
The watchdog noted that since it first began measuring satisfaction levels in 2009, there had been improvements in a number of aspects of customer service. There was particular progress in the ease and speed of contacting customer services in the mobile, broadband and landline markets during this period, for example. Additionally, overall customer service ratings did rise in the landline market, increasing by six percentage points since 2009.
In the landline provider category, Sky was teacher's, with Ofcom reporting satisfaction with some aspects of the company's customer service was higher than average. Customers were particularly satisfied with the ease of getting through to the right person and also said they were more likely to stay with the company than its competitors.
Satisfaction with Virgin Media’s customer service increased significantly since last year, from 53 percent to 64 percent, while the increase in satisfaction with BT’s service since 2009 has stayed at 63 percent.
O2 was rated above average for overall customer service satisfaction in mobile, with 76 percent of respondents saying they were happy. O2 also scored higher than average on certain elements of its customer service, such as providing clear advice, the speed with which it handles and resolves problems, being easy to contact, and for offering compensation or a goodwill gesture.
Satisfaction with Three’s customer service improved by seven percentage points from last year, bringing it up from its previous position of below the sector average.
Taking too long to handle complaints or problems contributed to a small reduction in satisfaction among Orange and T-Mobile customers, while Vodafone scored lower than average for the usefulness of the advice and information provided.
O2 customers were less likely, on average, to leave - however, loyalty to O2, Vodafone and Orange has declined year on year.
Uswitch's Ernest Doku said the research shows more needs to be done across the board.
"The overriding issue for the broadband sector today is speeds, and this report confirms that this is negatively affecting the whole customer experience," Doku said. "As more is done to improve broadband infrastructure, this will change, albeit slowly."
“However, anyone unhappy with their speed or customer service they are receiving can make their feelings known by voting with their feet and switching to a new provider," Doku said.
The watchdog's customer service research is part of a broader programme of work to ensure that consumers have access to reliable, accurate and up-to-date information to enable them to make informed decisions when considering a service or provider.