Which Australian ISP has the best customer service?

Which Australian Internet Service Provider (ISP) has the “best” customer service?

I’m glad you asked.

By my measure, Westnet utterly dominates the ISP customer service landscape.  All other ISPs simply pale in comparison.  Perhaps there’s something special in the Perth drinking water supply that makes businesses more people-focussed, because my second ranked ISP, Amnet, is also based in that beautiful city.  I’m chuffed to see that two ISPs operating out of my home town of Adelaide finished strongly – Adam Internet and Internode.  Relatively small outfit, aaNet filled out my top 5 with iiNet romping home with a respectable, above average result.  Finally, for reasons that I explain at the end of this post, I believe it’s worth giving an honourable mention to Exetel.

In summary, Stan’s Top Five Customer Service ISPs are:

  1. Westnet (by a Western Australian mile)
  2. Amnet
  3. Adam Internet
  4. Internode
  5. aaNet

But this isn’t just my opinion.  It’s based on hard science.  And when I say hard science I obviously mean my back-of-the-envelope statistical doodling.  My objective was to take results from the Australian Broadband Survey 2008 Report related to customer service, and distil them down to a single score that can be used to rank providers.  I arbitrarily set the benchmark score across the whole industry to be 1000, with each individual ISP’s customer service ranked relative to that benchmark.  So an ISP score higher than 1000 is above the industry average.  Lower than 1000 is below average.

I started by looking at the question:

When calling customer support, how long did you have to wait on the phone (or talk to an operator) before you spoke to the right person?

I used the resulting percentages (and some statistical shenanigans) to estimate the average time respondents to the survey spent waiting in the customer support phone queue:

ISP <1 min 1-4 mins 5-9 mins 10-20 mins >20 mins est. average time in queue
Telstra Cable 2.4% 19.4% 27.4% 26.2% 24.6% 19.9 mins
Telstra DSL 1.3% 18.4% 25.9% 26.6% 27.7% 21.5 mins
Optus Cable 1.7% 16.6% 27.7% 31.8% 22.2% 19.3 mins
Optus DSL 2.7% 19.3% 23.5% 28.3% 26.2% 20.8 mins
iiNet 10.0% 37.9% 25.0% 14.2% 12.9% 12.0 mins
Internode 8.4% 39.2% 27.6% 15.9% 8.9% 10.2 mins
TPG 2.7% 31.6% 33.2% 22.9% 9.6% 11.8 mins
Westnet 33.5% 48.7% 12.1% 3.6% 2.1% 3.9 mins
Exetel 12.1% 39.2% 24.1% 13.6% 11.0% 10.8 mins
Adam 20.3% 50.0% 19.2% 7.1% 3.4% 5.6 mins
aaNet 7.2% 45.9% 31.1% 9.6% 6.2% 8.2 mins
Netspace 2.2% 26.0% 27.9% 24.7% 19.2% 16.9 mins
Amnet 19.4% 50.2% 18.9% 9.7% 1.8% 5.1 mins
iPrimus 3.8% 20.3% 32.3% 26.6% 17.1% 16.2 mins
Telstra NextG 3.6% 12.3% 22.5% 28.3% 33.3% 24.5 mins
AAPT 2.6% 26.6% 23.4% 21.4% 26.0% 19.8 mins
Other ISPs 9.8% 33.1% 25.7% 18.0% 13.4% 12.7 mins
TOTAL 9.7% 33.3% 25.2% 18.1% 13.7% 12.9 mins

So, for example, Westnet customers spent just 3.9 minutes, on average, waiting in the phone queue before speaking to a Customer Support Officer.  Not too shabby.  The average across all ISPs I estimated to be 12.9 minutes.  Of course it’s possible that these estimates might be a bit off.  But it doesn’t matter too much, because the idea is to rank each ISP relative to all ISPs.  So (to 3 decimal places) Westnet gets a relative score of (12.895/3.927)*1000=3284 for wait time.

And so on.  I have omitted the calcuations here to keep things concise, but I applied the same basic technique to the two remaining questions in the survey related to customer service:

How quickly have technical support issues typically taken to resolve?

How would you rate their customer service?

Again, each ISP was scaled comparatively to the overall index of 1000.

Finally, I generated a total score by taking the harmonic mean of the three individual categories.  My overall results from the three customer service questions (equally weighted) are as follows:

ISP Time in queue Time to resolution Rating of service TOTAL SCORE
Telstra Cable 649 696 808 711
Telstra DSL 600 657 802 676
Optus Cable 667 751 804 736
Optus DSL 620 653 759 672
iiNet 1077 1074 1093 1081
Internode 1260 1664 1203 1348
TPG 1089 991 843 963
Westnet 3284 3183 1268 2132
Exetel 1192 909 922 992
Adam 2290 2433 1125 1727
aaNet 1571 1219 966 1204
Netspace 764 1045 978 912
Amnet 2519 2320 1110 1735
iPrimus 797 974 961 903
Telstra NextG 527 479 740 562
AAPT 650 998 853 808
Other ISPs 1012 896 976 959
TOTAL 1000 1000 1000 1000

Westnet completely blitzed the field across all three categories.  Hence it ranks overall as the number 1 ISP for customer service in Australia, with a total score of 2132.  So Westnet is more than twice as “good” than the industry average (=1000).  In fact, one surprising result was just how well some of the smaller outfits in general did against the 900 pound gorillas, Telstra and Optus.  At the other end of the customer support spectrum, Telstra’s NextG service hobbled in with a miserly 562.  In customer support, size does not matter.

But the really surprising result for me was Exetel.  I have a bit of a soft spot for Exetel.  Their whole raison d’etre is to provide the lowest cost broadband services in Australia.  Remarkably, they apparently do so without compromising customer service all that much.  Exetel’s overall score was only a smidgeon below the industry benchmark index, and they comprehensively trounced many of their bigger competitors.

Ranked from highest to lowest the results are as follows (with scores):

  • Westnet (2132)
  • Amnet (1735)
  • Adam (1727)
  • Internode (1348)
  • aaNet (1204)
  • iiNet (1081)
    ——
  • Exetel (992)
  • TPG (963)
  • Netspace (912)
  • iPrimus (903)
  • AAPT (808)
  • Optus Cable (736)
  • Telstra Cable (711)
  • Telstra DSL (676)
  • Optus DSL (672)
  • Telstra NextG (562)
    ——
  • Other (959)
    ——
  • AVERAGE (1000)

basil-fawlty-on-phone“Your call is important to us”

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11 Responses

  1. Hmm, I’m not sure those three categories should be equally weighted- I would have weighted it in favour of theating over the time taken to answer? Still, interesting.

    • This is all total crap . I believe there are better ISP that are not included here Like Eftel

      • Not all ISPs were listed individually in the published survey results. Many of the smaller ISPs, or ISPs that didn’t garner many responses, were simply grouped up into the “Other” cohort. Unfortunately not much I can do, unless the survey co-ordinators allow me access to the raw data.

      • Actually eftel has had loads of customer service complaints since your response mainly to do with billing. When most people talk about Eftel its to say how much the ISP has stuffed them up through illegal practices like cutting off their calls while trying to reach technical support and illegally billing customers that werent theres in the first place.

        Also they are known to use overseas call centres, which no Australian likes.

    • Thanks for the feedback. I agree that the categories should be weighted… but by how much? Without any direction I had little choice but to weight them equally. But an interesting conceptual exercise, nevertheless.

      • Yeah, picking the weighting would be tricky.

  2. This time next year I’ll be living in Brisbane so this might come in handy. Thanks!

    • Hey, that’s awesome! Little Casper is going to love Australia.

  3. Stanley,

    We keep very accurate call statistics of wait times/abandon times and there has never been an average wait time as long as the Whirlpool survey reported.

    Any customer, non-customer for that matter, can see live what the wait time is on each of the three customer services by visiting Exetel’s web site here:

    http://www.exetel.com.au/contact.php

    The day by day statistics are also published here:

    http://forum.exetel.com.au/viewtopic.php?f=324&t=27042

    possibly, your examples show the danger of analysis where the =base data is ficticious?

    • Thanks for the feedback. Interestingly, you’re not the first ISP CEO to mention to me, in response to this analysis, that wait times reported in the Whirlpool survey are quite a bit higher than those recorded by their own internal systems. To be honest I’m not surprised; I think people have a very poor perception of the passing of time, especially when asked to recall it several months after the event. One minute on hold can easily seem like five minutes.

      For the purposes of this analysis it didn’t matter too much when calculating an overall score, as I was ranking ISPs against each other using the same data source, and wait times was only one aspect of it.

  4. I’m with Eftel and customer service is more than how long you are in a phone queue. Eftel can’t follow directions, provide decent technical support or send out bills with correct plan details. I rate them 0/10.

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