UK broadband providers show that speedy replies are only half the story on Twitter

UK broadband providers show that speedy replies are only half the story on Twitter

Comparing UK broadband providers’ customer support handles on Twitter reveals that focusing on rapid response may mean you compromise on delivering an even service.

Last year, WaveMetrix compared how well two of the UK’s top broadband internet providers managed customer service on Twitter. Pitting Sky against Virgin Media revealed that Sky’s dedicated @SkyHelpTeam handle, open seven days a week, outstripped Virgin’s five-day non-dedicated @virginmedia handle in terms of how quickly they responded to customer complaints. With Virgin’s handle now operating seven days a week, we extended this analysis to investigate response times for ten of the UK’s top consumer broadband providers over one week from July 31 - August 7.

Our analysis reveals that Sky continues to respond faster than Virgin, and is the fastest UK broadband provider on Twitter. However, this focus on replying within the hour means that some customers slip through the cracks, with 883 (37%) waiting six hours or more for a response. Virgin Media may not be as effective at replying within the hour, but they do respond to 3,457 customers (76% of the week's activity) in less than six hours.

Sky’s dedicated help handle is the quickest to respond to consumer complaints:

Twitter response rates for ten key UK broadband suppliers

Ten key broadband suppliers in the UK – Twitter response rates

  •  Sky remains the most responsive UK broadband twitter handle: Sky respond to 59% of consumer complaints in under an hour, whilst also dealing with a high overall volume of customer queries. Virgin Media responses are mostly 1 – 6 hours after original posting, though they are also dealing with a higher volume of tweets overall.
  • Dedicated care handles are not necessarily faster to respond than general brand handles: BT’s dedicated @BTCare handle is the worst performer of the large brands covered, with the lowest percentage of replies under an hour and 72% of replies that taking longer than six hours. Virgin, O2 and Vodafone are all faster than BTCare at responding to consumers, even though none of them are dedicated customer support handles.
  • ThreeUKSupport is the only major provider not tweeting over the weekend: reply times are much slower than most other providers on average. This suggests that seven-day social media customer support is important, with most of the other brands covered already implementing this.

Virgin Media's customer service is more even than Sky's when looking at reply times on a granular level:

Distribution analysis of tweet response times for four top UK broadband providers

Top four UK broadband providers - box plot of tweet response times

  • Virgin’s approach keeps fewer customers waiting a long time for a reply: while Sky may be better at responding within an hour, Virgin Media ensure that almost all of the tweets they receive are dealt with in fewer than ten. Sky customers who do not receive a reply within 1 – 6 hours are more likely to be kept waiting 10 – 40 hours.
  • This suggests that Virgin’s focus is on slower but more even service: this means that overall they are more effective at dealing with a greater number of complaints in a timely fashion.
  • TalkTalk and BT avoid keeping anyone waiting for days: due to the volume of Twitter traffic they receive, occassional tweets @ Virgin and Sky can slip through the cracks, meaning customers are kept waiting as long as five days for a response. BT and TalkTalk ensure almost all are dealt with within 48 hours.

Some brands' subscriber bases are more active on Twitter than others

Some brands' subscriber bases are more active on Twitter than others

  • Comparing twitter activity to number of UK subscribers (as detailed by Ofcom) reveals that TalkTalk’s userbase is much less active on Twitter than Virgin Media’s: though TalkTalk is the fourth largest provider in terms of market share, it is the eigth-most active on Twitter. This may be due to splitting their presence more effectively between @TalkTalkCare and @TalkTalkTips.
  • Virgin Media receives the most customer queries on Twitter: Virgin, O2 and Vodafone drive higher proportions of customer service tweets relative to broadband market share. However, this is likely due to all three offering extended services outside of broadband. O2 and Vodafone in particular offer the majority of their services outside broadband


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