Globally, the customer experience in the Telecommunications sector is improving faster than in any other. However, for now, the sector came first in Vietnam only. This year, it again improved by one point in the Czech Republic and fared slightly better in all pillars of the customer experience. Even so, they remained below average overall in the rankings. This year, Telecommunications left behind the Travel and Hotels and Utilities sectors only. Clients perceive the Time and Effort pillar most positively; Empathy has also slightly improved since last year. However, customer experiences show that there is still room for future improvement.
Dominating this year’s rankings was the unorthodox virtual operator Mobil.cz, a study newcomer. However, because it placed inconsistently in previous studies, the firm will have to defend its position in the following years. Of the established “big three”, second-ranked T-Mobile climbed the highest. Thanks to its customer-oriented communication and advertising that customers remember, T-Mobile garnered many positive reviews. In third place came Vodafone, last year’s silver medallist. According to customer comments, this firm is suffering from the consequences of merging with UPC. Also impacting the market is the negative perception of high prices; data services prices particularly exceeded those of equivalent services abroad. Conversely, customers positively regard the wide product selection and being able to personalize tariffs, ideally conveniently via a mobile application.
Looking ahead, rating standards in the sector could improve thanks to an amendment passed in early 2022 to the Act on Communications. The new legislation made it easier to build networks for high-speed internet while changing the customer position vis-à-vis telemarketing. It is now automatically assumed that clients do not wish to be contacted by phone, significantly cutting the number of unsolicited marketing calls. Conversely, customers interested in marketing materials can change their default position to approval.
The virtual operator Mobil.cz, which surprisingly came first this year, briefly introduced an offer of several packages and three call options. Clients managed the service mostly themselves via the website or an application, a fact that they often highlighted in evaluations. They also referred to special deals (such as on data packages) that the operator launches throughout the year.
The operator’s SIM cards can be purchased in newsagents and now at more than 2,500 branches of Česká Pošta (Czech Post), significantly contributing to the overall effect of the omnichannel service. This involves communicating with the customer and offering services wherever technologically possible. But such an approach has downsides too. Mobil.cz relies on customer “self-service”, and some clients negatively comment on the lack of a “living” human touch, mainly when technical problems arise. This arrangement could spell future trouble for the operator but also present potential for further development. It will be interesting to see how this type of mobile operator will make its mark in other studies.
„I used to buy data through their app so I could check something on the internet. I’m glad I can buy data easily and quickly in the app.“
Woman, 19, Mobil.cz
„I’m a senior citizen and only got a smartphone less than two years ago. The group of young experts at the branch are helpful and willing to give advice. They’ve got a sense of humour and always put me at ease if I have a problem or non-problem.“
Woman, 76, T-Mobile
„We thought of getting a new SIM with an unlimited data tariff. Twenty minutes later, we left with what we needed. The service was pleasant, and the staff answered all our questions.“
Man, 22, Vodafone
Second place in the sector belonged to T-Mobile, which gained customers primarily through numerous tariffs that could be combined based on individual preferences. The easy-to-navigate application, enabling the purchase of additional packages or a tariff change, was well received. However, customers continue to stress human contact, which a relatively dense network of branches makes possible. Applying such an approach, T-Mobile has attracted a variety of clients across all age groups.
Vodafone clients also appreciate having their requests attended to in person. References to the speedy resolution of issues and the willingness of branch staff appear relatively frequently. And this is despite (or perhaps precisely because) the mobile application and the operator’s helpline received a somewhat variable rating. It is clear that operator bricks and mortar branches are not stuck in the past but always offer customers the certainty on which they can depend.
Competition can often lead to quality partnership, as confirmed by the partnership between T-Mobile and Vodafone in digitalizing the Czech Republic and speeding up the internet. The companies are creating almost a million optical data connections with a speed of over 1 Gb/s. Besides this joint project, they will open up to each other already established connections in Prague, Brno, and other cities.
Fast internet is a priority for many customers in the Telecommunications sector. They want to use data for everything, from streaming services to calls and chat. Increasingly, therefore, how free minutes or text messages are offered is not as relevant to them as the speed and volume of data. T-Mobile is also very well aware of this. With 6.3 million customers, the operator is the largest mobile operator in the Czech Republic; its fifth-generation network covers 21 per cent of the country. The move towards data and fast internet may also influence the future form of tariffs and mix up the competition. Whoever offers higher speed wins.
In recent years, the mobile operator market has enjoyed relative stability. Occasionally, there has been speculation about new operators entering the market, but we will have to wait for those. Some existing operators will continue with their own hardware brands (e.g., headphones or smartphones) in offering smartphones along with tariffs. It will be worth noting whether the virtual operators will maintain their position and thus continuously work together to improve the quality of the customer experience in the Czech Republic.
„When I set up a tariff with T-Mobile, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted, but the employees at the branch created a tailor-made package for me, which was great.“
Man, 26, T-Mobile
„We went to a big city where company X had a branch, to return an unused TV set top box because they had sent us a new one, and we had to return it. They sent us home with it because they didn’t know what to do with it. After we made the complaint, they took the box and offered us other services.“
Woman, 62, X Company