BT and Cable & Wireless Communications left the majority of complaining UK corporate telephone customers unhappy last year, according to figures published by operators this week.
The latest Comparable Performance Indicators report, spanning July to December 1998, puts the UK's two largest operators in the dog house for service to businesses, in particular over fault repairs and complaint handling, whilst rivals such as Energis and NTL faired much better.
Backed by telecom watchdog Oftel, the quarterly report compiles customer satisfaction information gathered from the majority of UK telecom operators.
Just 26 per cent of Cable & Wireless' switched business customers said they were very or fairly satisfied with the operator's complaint handling, and just 65 per cent were happy with the fault repair service - only 66.3 per cent of repairs were completed on time.
Reacting to the report, Cable & Wireless said it has worked intensively over the last six months to improve customer service, including a #100 million investment in customer service. The operator said it has halved the average time to install a business cable.
"We're very confident that we'll see an improvement in the next CPI figures," said a Cable & Wireless spokeswoman.
BT faired slightly better with 47 per cent of customers very or fairly satisfied with complaints handling and 83 per cent with fault repairs - 91.4 per cent of which were completed on time.
Best of the bunch for switched business customers was Energis with just 0.7 per 100 customers reporting faults and 90.1 per cent of faults repaired within the target time. Comtel, Global One and Telewest all repaired less than 80 per cent of faults on time.
For dedicated lines, General Cable had the highest customer satisfaction and the lowest number of reported faults.
BT sustained the highest number of customer fault reports from both leased line and switched business customers. BT said 3.3 faults were reported per 100 switched lines and 7.4 per 100 leased lines. Cable & Wireless customers reported one fault per 100 switched lines and 4.3 per 100 leased lines.
The report is available free of charge on the Internet at http://www.telco-cpi.org.uk. Telecoms watchdog Oftel said in a statement: "Customers should make full use of the information provided."
A spokesman for the Telecommunications Managers Association said its members use the results of the survey "extensively" when selecting a telecom provider. Frequency of faults and complaint handling are two of the key issues for customers, he said.
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