Cellular shortcomings

April 09, 2010, 6:44 PM GMT+0

The race for mobile service provider supremacy has heated up on TellYouGov between the 6th of March and the 6th of April with users, or ‘tyggers’, revealing how they feel about the nations loved and loathed mobile phone network operators (MNOs). (We haven’t looked at operators that operate from another network, or MVNOs, e.g. Tesco mobile, this time round.)

As illustrated by the graph below, Orange has recorded the most positive ‘tygs’, or comments, with a score of +79. Orange is especially well liked for their customer service, which was described as ‘fantastic’ by one tygger and ‘very helpful’ by another. However, Orange also provoked considerable negative feeling among tyggers, with -96 negative tygs recorded over the month; the most of any of the five mobile phone operators we analysed.

O2 fare slightly worse with a score of +75 when considering only positive tygs, but do much better when only looking at negative sentiments, recording a score of -69; 27 fewer negative points than Orange. O2 is commended by tyggers for its ‘value for money’, ‘speed of customer service’ and one called the customer services team ‘always cheerful, patient & helpful’ but others lament its ‘sending [of] automated emails’ and its ‘slow and costly customer service line’.

Vodafone held the middle ground with a modest +31 positive tygs recorded but will undoubtedly be concerned by the number of negative tygs they’ve been receiving; 74 over the month, which amounts to an overall net score of -43 tygs. Whilst some respondents praised Vodafone’s ‘good contract renewal processes’, the majority condemned its ‘poor signal’, ‘expensive charges’ and ‘dire customer service’.

T-Mobile (which incidentally plans to merge with Orange to create the largest provider in the UK at around 28m customers) and 3 both record moderately positive sentiments with scores of +24 and +17 respectively. T-Mobile was championed for its ‘brilliant service centres’ while 3 was praised for their ‘great advice’. However both recorded considerably more negative than positive tygs with T-Mobile recording a score of -42 and 3 a score of -56. T-Mobile was criticised by one respondent for ‘trying to add to my monthly bill without mentioning the costs involved’ while another complained that 3 provided ‘the worst customer service’ they had ever received and that as a result they ‘can’t wait until [their] contract is up’.

The recession and an increasing emphasis on a service economy has led many consumers to place more value on the level of service they receive, as well as expect mobile operators to raise their performance and offer greater value for money. When providers fail to meet such expectations, TellYouGov scores reflect the fallout.

While it is somewhat inevitable that there will be a divide in opinion, our results indicate that mobile operators must be wary of recording a net negative score. The net score is calculated by subtracting the negative score from the positive, and represents a given subject’s true score. Between the 6th of March and the 6th of April, Vodafone recorded the highest net negative score with a score of -43 followed by 3 with -39 and T-Mobile with a score of -18. Only O2 recorded a positive net score: +6.

If the tygs we’ve been receiving are anything to go by, improvements in customer service, as well as network infrastructure improvements, would be an ideal place for any of the providers to start a seachange in public opinion.

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