Plusnet scramble to bring call wait times down

21 February 2014, 15:26   By Julia Kukiewicz

PLUSNET are scrambling to get their customer services back on an even keel after several months of high demand.

plusnet broadband website
Credit: chrisdorney/

The Yorkshire-based broadband provider, which has always prided itself on its excellent customer service, told us this week that they've "invested heavily" to resolve the issue.

Long call wait times, in particular, have left many Plusnet customers frustrated.

plusnet complaint choose site

SOURCE: Comment on Choose Plusnet review (here), taken 21/2/14

Plusnet admit that they've been experiencing "higher than normal" call times in recent months but claim that wait times are now falling.

"[We've been] opening a new service centre in Leeds, strengthening our advisor training and delivering a new phone system and we plan to keep improving further," the provider told us.

However, many customers drawn to Plusnet because of their good reputation for service have already been left disappointed by the confusion over the past few months, and they haven't been shy about saying so.

To untarnish their once golden reputation for service and get back on track, the provider will need to drastically improve their call centre service and put a stop to complaints.

What went wrong?

High demand has long been a problem for broadband providers, memorably scuppering TalkTalk's 2006 'free broadband forever' promotion, for example, and seems to have been the chief culprit in Plusnet's recent woes.

Accounting records for the year ending March 2013 show that Plusnet sales jumped from £113.4 million to £140.6 million, about 24%.

Sales in the past twelve months or so have been even stronger, partly as a result of a £2.3 million advertising campaign launched in June which put Plusnet's "we'll do you proud" customer service message front and centre.

It might have also helped that, in late 2012, the provider launched unlimited broadband, nixing usage limits that had previously put off many potential customers.

In 2013 Plusnet were also named fastest ADSL provider.

The resulting influx of customers was enough to keep the provider uncomfortably unable to keep up with demand.

A new call centre in Leeds was opened in October last year and the company has grown from 700 to 850 staff, changes which it expects to reduce call wait times in the near future.

However, Plusnet declined to give us any actual figures on how their call waiting times have declined and described them as "continuing to reduce", which suggests they still have some way to go.

plusnet call centre confusion

SOURCE: Comment on Choose Plusnet review (here), taken 21/2/14

High expectations

Another explanation for Plusnet's problems is that the provider has set a high bar for itself in terms of service.

It's hard to get up much righteous indignation about getting poor service from TalkTalk because their recent history suggests it's not all that unlikely.

Plusnet, however, have been consistently highly rated for their service.

Plusnet customer service scores - The Big Broadband Survey 2012

2 3 4 5
2% 3% 13% 31% 52%

In the same survey just 10% of TalkTalk customers, 15% of Virgin Media customers and 14% of BT customers gave their provider a five out of five score.

In the GfK Consumer Attitudes Tracker Plusnet used for their latest campaign 67% of Plusnet customers said they were satisfied with the brand, compared to 59% of Sky customers and 55% of Virgin Media customers.

However, the GfK survey was carried out between August 2012 and July 2013 and ThinkBroadband's big survey between June and October 2012.

Plusnet aren't big enough to be included in the quarterly Ofcom reports on broadband complaints so this kind of data will be important in the coming months.

Plusnet maintain that, even with their recent problems, their service remains good for an ISP of their size. But we won't be able to see whether there's really a satisfied silent majority for a little while yet.

Strained relationship

In the mean time, Plusnet problems will continue to spill over on to the web and worry both current and potential customers.

plusnet review worried

SOURCE: Comment on Choose Plusnet review (here), taken 21/2/14

Reading comments and forum discussions, it's clear that the unusually close relationship between Plusnet and their customers is becoming strained.

Users find the high demand explanation inadequate: they complain that Plusnet should have foreseen the increase in customer numbers and, even more unreasonably, that the provider is ignoring existing users to pursue new ones.

Let's hope that improved customer service in the coming months mends some fences.

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