Whether you’re looking to sign up to your first NBN plan, or perhaps you’re looking to switch to a better deal, choosing an NBN provider can be daunting for some.
Not only are there almost 200 providers to choose from, but experiences can vary greatly between telcos. Many providers can offer very similar plans — similar price, speed tiers and inclusions — so finding the right provider for you could come down to something as simple as quality customer service.
While you might be tempted to go with a cheap NBN provider, a big name provider, or perhaps one offering the most perks, it does help to consider what your experience with that telco is going to be. Although no two customers will have the exact same experience, you can still gauge a general idea of what to expect based on feedback and reviews from existing customers. At Canstar Blue, we aim to help you find the best NBN provider for your needs, so read on to find out more about how to find NBN providers with a reputation for good customer service.
Why is good NBN customer service important?
If you’ve never found yourself spending hours on the phone waiting for support, whether it be from a telco, energy provider, bank or other service provider, consider yourself lucky. It seems like one of life’s inevitabilities — when you need to sort out something or need some technical support, that you’ll most likely be put on the merry-go-round of menus and different departments for what is a seemingly simple problem.
For anyone who has had one too many bad customer service experiences, you may now put a higher value on quality customer service. Not only does it take up your time — spending hours on the phone, and even days waiting for a resolution — but during that waiting period, you could be without service or access. That’s especially frustrating when it comes to being without access to your internet plan, considering just how much we rely on the internet for day-to-day activities: whether it’s working from home, online banking or even for access to your smart home tech.
A report into telco complaints handling performance released in 2021 by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) stated that telcos received just over one million complaints during the 2020-2021 financial year, and the average time for these complaints to be resolved was 12.2 days. There were also issues with some smaller telcos not recording complaints until these were escalated to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).
“We think it’s time for every telco to make its complaints handling performance public and transparent. This would allow consumers to make more informed decisions when choosing a telco provider, including what to expect when things don’t go to plan,” said ACMA Authority Member Fiona Cameron.
The TIO itself also releases a report into telco complaints during the same period as the ACMA report. During the 2020-2021 reporting period, the TIO received 19,982 complaints about NBN plans (with 35,911 complaints about internet services in general). From these complaints, 36.9% were in relation to poor customer service from slow or unresponsive telcos.
If you’re looking to avoid the headaches of unresponsive telcos and lodging complaints to the TIO, this is where it could be worth looking into telcos with a good reputation for quality customer service. Keep in mind that everyone’s experience will be different, but it doesn’t hurt to look at providers where existing customers are, for the most part, happy with the service they receive.
How can you choose an NBN provider with good customer service?
While it’s impossible to really say which one provider is better than all others, considering that personal experiences may vary, you can consider what other customers think of their provider as a way of narrowing down your choices.
At Canstar Blue, we survey thousands of Australians to find out what they think of their NBN provider. These providers are rated on areas such as speed and reliability, ease of setup, value for money, overall satisfaction and customer service.
So, if you’re looking for a new NBN plan and want to know which providers have the best customer service, as rated by customers, read on to find out what other Aussies think of their telco when it comes to customer service.
Best NBN provider for customer service — Mate
The 2021 winner for Most Satisfied Customers for NBN Provider, Mate, was also the top-rated when it came to customer service, achieving five stars in the category.
This 100% Australian-owned company is based in Sydney, NSW and offers Australian-based customer support (no offshore support), along with a range of support options. On the website, you can try Mate’s AI for simple questions or issues, such as questions about signing up to Mate as a potential new customer, or if you’re an existing customer looking for support. If this isn’t enough, you’re also able to open live chat (with an indication as to whether support staff are online) or you can send an email via the site’s contact form or direct from your email. Mate also has a number you can call for customer support.
The following table shows a selection of published Mate NBN plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers.
Other NBN providers with highly-rated customer service
While Mate might have been the only provider to score five stars for customer service, several other NBN providers achieved four stars in the same category. Spintel, Aussie Broadband, Internode, Vodafone, iiNet, TPG and Westnet all scored four stars for customer service; however, keep in mind that these providers also scored differently across the other categories which affects their position in the rankings.
Spintel offers several options for customer support including online chat on the website, or through WhatsApp and Messenger apps, or you can call or request a call back. Aussie Broadband offers several support options with it’s Australian-based support team, such as online chat, an online contact form or the option to call.
Internode, Vodafone, iiNet, TPG and Westnet all received four stars for customer service, and incidentally are all part of the TPG Telecom group. Internode has several support numbers, depending on your needs, and the option to contact support online. Vodafone has a few options with online customer support via live chat, in-store support and a support line you can call.
Customer support with iiNet is very straightforward, with the option to call or email for assistance. TPG however has many different numbers to call depending on your needs; for example, there are separate internet technical support numbers for NBN, ADSL and Fibre to the Building connections. Westnet, however, offers simpler support with the options to simply call or email.
If you want to compare plans from some of the above mentioned providers, the following table shows a selection of published NBN 50 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of monthly cost, from lowest to highest, and then by alphabetical order of provider. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.
Is customer support the best way to choose an NBN provider?
Solely basing your choice of provider based on customer service isn’t the best way to measure which plan will be right for you. Aspects of a provider, such as customer support, won’t always be the same between customers. Just because one person had a great experience with a provider’s support, doesn’t mean that the next person will have the same experience. Factors such as the issue itself, your home’s internet connection, and your choice of plan can all contribute to the experience.
The customer themselves might also be part of what makes a good or bad customer service experience. For example, a customer who understands more about their plan, might be able to give more accurate information to the customer service representative, and may likewise be able to follow instructions for troubleshooting. Confused or frustrated customers could make it harder for the issue to be identified, therefore leading to a more difficult experience.
Choosing the best NBN provider for your needs shouldn’t be determined by one metric only. An NBN provider with a reputation for great customer support is only going to be as good as their plans, and whether those plans or options suit your needs. There are a few things to consider when choosing a good NBN plan:
- What speed do you need
- What is your budget
- Do you need any extras (modem, entertainment add ons, call pack, etc)
- Contract or month-to-month plan
Once you’ve got a clearer picture for what you’re looking for, compare plans from a range of NBN providers. If you’ve narrowed your search down to a few providers, and one has better feedback on customer support, this might be what sways you towards that one provider over the others. You can also talk to family, friends and even your colleagues to find out what they think of their current provider if you want a more first-hand account.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. If you’re uncertain about a provider, you might want to look into signing up on a month-to-month plan first (and make sure you’re aware of any cancellation fees) so that if you’re unhappy with that provider, you can simply switch to another.