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  • Kyle Chua

More Singaporeans Are Unhappy With Telco Services, Claims SMU 2021 Survey

Singaporean telecommunication companies appear to have some room for growth when it comes to customer satisfaction.

Credit: Wix

According to the Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore (CSISG) survey conducted by researchers from Singapore Management University (SMU) at the Institute of Service Excellence (ISE), more customers are unhappy with the services being provided to them by companies belonging to the info-communications sector.

The retail sector, in contrast, performed better, with physical stores in general recording improvements in their scores. The one exception here seems to be e-commerce, which registered a decrease from its score last year.

The survey, which takes a look at how customers view the services of the two aforementioned sectors, was conducted between the months of January and April 2021, a period in which many Singaporeans were confined to their homes due to pandemic-related restrictions, as the researchers point out.

The researchers found that satisfaction with the Info-communications sector dropped by 4% year-on-year to 68.5 points (on a 0 to 100 scale).

The sector is said to consist of five constituents: mobile telecom, broadband, Pay TV, Wireless@SG and video streaming services.

Mobile telecom (69.2 points), broadband (66.9 points), and Pay TV (65.3 points) all recorded lower scores compared to the previous survey, with declines of 3.5%, 4.5%, and 7.4%, respectively. The Wireless@SG service (69.8 points) isn’t important in this discussion because of the lack of tourist respondents. As for video streaming services (73.4 points), it’s the first time the sub-sector is being included in the survey, so there’s no previous data to compare its score with.

The researchers further note that the respondents for the mobile telecom sub-sector were even expanded to include customers of MVNO companies like Circles.Life and MyRepublic. This, however, didn't help counter the drop in the score.

Credit: Wix

When analyzing the various attributes of the more established telecom companies, namely Singtel, StarHub and M1, the researchers believe product and responsiveness are two factors that contribute to customers' unhappiness. Responsiveness, in particular, along with other key product attributes like network coverage, reliability and data speeds, among others, also saw declines in satisfaction. And the same decline was observed for product and responsiveness-related attributes of the broadband and Pay TV sub-sectors.

Additionally, more customers were calling contact centres for technical-related help and support. For broadband service providers, the number rose from 59.5% in 2020 to 71.6% in 2021. Contact centre satisfaction similarly saw drops in customer satisfaction in this survey.

"This was unsurprising as the COVID-19 pandemic has required people to become more reliant on telecommunication technologies for both work and play," said Mr Chen Yongchang, ISE Head of Research and Consulting. "This increased dependency would have likely caused greater urgency among customers to require any issues and concerns be promptly addressed by their telcos."

Retail, on the other hand, saw improvements as a whole, recording a 1.9% year-on-year improvement to score 72.4 points in customer satisfaction. This is thanks to increases across its constituents like department stores (72.7 points), fashion apparel (73.3 points) and supermarkets (72.0 points). Only e-commerce registered a decrease in performance, dropping 2.3% to 71.1 points.

The researchers note that customers today are leaning more towards omnichannel shopping experiences rather than traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Hence, retailers should look into integrating parts of the digital shopping experience into the traditional one to make shopping feel more seamless and effortless for the customers.

“Going forward, we think synergising in-store experiences with the pervasive accessibility of digital shopping will be the holy grail for retailers, online or off. Businesses that manage this omni-channel blend most effectively will be able to count on happier and more loyal customers,” said Ms Neeta Lachmandas, ISE Executive Director.

  • Singaporean telecommunication companies appear to have some room for growth when it comes to customer satisfaction.

  • According to a survey, more customers are unhappy with the services being provided to them by the info-communications sector.

  • The researchers who conducted the survey attributed the drop in satisfaction to factors related to product and responsiveness of the service providers.

  • The retail sector, in contrast, as a whole saw an improvement to its customer satisfaction rating.

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