Telcos see 3.2% dip in Q1 for service quality: SMU study

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Mobile telcos experienced a decline of 3.2 per cent in reported customer satisfaction with service quality in the first quarter of this year compared with last year, an annual study by the Singapore Management University (SMU) showed.

Mobile phone users gave lower ratings in answering whether they felt their service provider took good care of their needs and had their best interest at heart.

Mr Chen Yongchang, head of research and consulting at SMU's Institute of Service Excellence, which conducted this survey, said that the fall in ratings could be because of service issues, such as having problems reaching the call centre.

He also said that new entrants tend to offer services that target issues existing telcos face and offer more attractive packages such as unlimited data and higher rebates.

"This can raise the expectations of existing customers who may wonder why their own telcos are not able to offer the same," Mr Chen said.

A Singtel spokesman attributed the decline in mobile scores to movement restrictions and lockdowns at its offshore contact centres because of Covid-19.

SMU's study involved 1,900 subscribers of various info-comm services between February and April. It also found a marked fall in the number of services, such as mobile, broadband and pay-TV, from the same telco broadband customers held, from an average of 2.4 last year to 1.6 this year.

Mr Chen said: "This is likely due to increased competition in the industry with a large number of providers offering similarly priced services."

But Mr Johan Buse, chief of the consumer business group at StarHub, said the telco's all-in-one HomeHub Plus with Netflix bundle has seen strong take up since its March launch.

He said the annual percentage of customers who cancelled their subscriptions remained low across all lines of business.

Similarly, Singtel said it has seen no discernible change in the number of customers using multiple services.

M1 did not directly respond to questions The Straits Times asked about service quality and bundle subscriptions, but gave a general statement that the survey found an increase in their customer satisfaction index by 1.9 per cent compared with last year.