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:
- Westnet (by a Western Australian mile)
- Adam Internet
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|
|Telstra NextG||3.6%||12.3%||22.5%||28.3%||33.3%||24.5 mins|
|Other ISPs||9.8%||33.1%||25.7%||18.0%||13.4%||12.7 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|
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)