BY HOE PEI SHAN, Straits Times

CONSUMERS are generally happy with the telephone and broadband services available here – though one in three would like to see telcos do something to reduce waiting times to their hotlines.

These were the findings of the latest consumer awareness and satisfaction survey commissioned by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

Out of a highest score of five – indicating “very satisfied” – fixed line telephone, mobile telephone, fixed broadband and mobile broadband services achieved ratings of above 3.5 across three indicators. These were “quality of service”, “price competitiveness of the service offerings” and “variety of services”.

The survey, the fifth of its kind since 2003, interviewed 1,500 people between December last year and March this year. Besides general satisfaction, most customers appeared to be well informed about extra fees and charges linked to specific services such as early termination of accounts and mobile data roaming.

Yet while the overall consumer experience appeared to be good, respondents also reflected an expectation of more to be delivered in customer care.

A particular pet peeve is the waiting time over hotline calls to telcos. Some 33 per cent of respondents suggested that service providers should look into reducing such hold-ups. The IDA noted that this was “despite satisfaction with hotline waiting times actually improving since 2010 for all three major telecom service providers”.

Longtime StarHub user Nafiz Hamza said he has waited as long as 15 minutes on the phone before being addressed by a customer service officer. “It’s annoying, they should come up with a queue list with the call logs and then call us back when someone is available,” said the 25-year-old student.

And even if customers manage to stick through the wait, they may not get the help they seek.

SingTel user Celeste Yih said she prefers to find her own solutions to broadband problems online, than spend time and energy trying to get redirected to the right technician over the phone.

“It takes too long before you can talk to a person that can solve your problem,” said Ms Yih, a 43-year-old working in planning and logistics.

The survey asked local consumers about their awareness, as well as subscription and usage patterns, of the telecommunication services available.

In addition, they were surveyed on their satisfaction with the services that they had used.

The survey also found that most consumers here have gone mobile, with only 8 per cent of respondents saying they had used a payphone in the preceding six months.

More than half also believe that payphones are no longer a necessity, with 88 per cent citing that they “already subscribed to a mobile phone”.

Telcos told The Straits Times they were heartened by the results of the IDA survey and have noted customers’ feedback.

StarHub and M1 both said they have also been using social media to communicate with consumers.

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