Which? publishes new report into consumer engagement in broadbandMatthew Evans
After Ofcom published its research on pricing practices in fixed broadband, Which? set out to gain a fuller understanding of the barriers that consumers face in engaging with the broadband market.
In-depth qualitative research was conducted with consumers around the UK to explore the drivers that underpin consumer behavior around engagement. Between 4th and 6th September Which? surveyed 2,069 UK adults, of whom 1,714 said they were responsible for making decisions about broadband. The research found that lack of engagement is the result of many factors and that barriers to broadband engagement relate to the confidence and ability of consumers to understand their needs and identify the most suitable package, their knowledge of how pricing works and their beliefs around the risk of making changes to their existing service. 44% of those who hardly ever or made changes to their contract agreed that they didn’t receive deals from their provider that seem relevant to them; 42% said that they think their provider will try to “oversell” them if they call them to talk about a new package/deal.
The introduction of end-of-contract notifications may help to address some of the barriers but evaluation post launch will be needed to ensure that they are actually working for consumers. As the rollout of full-fibre progresses over the coming years, uptake will be dependent on consumers understanding the benefits that it will deliver.
- A consumer-centric approach is needed when designing new interventions to foster consumer engagement.
- Any initiatives/interventions introduced need to be properly evaluated to understand whether they are successfully delivering on their original aims.
- Industry needs to reflect on whether current communications with consumers will help them to make the right choices and consider the long-term impact on trust in the industry. This will have an effect on consumers’ willingness to engage to take advantage of better services delivered by investments in new technologies.
- Current incentives, such as the promise of faster speeds from superfast, are only resonating with a small number of consumers. Companies could think about offering more tangible incentives.
- Consumer groups, industry and Ofcom should work together to help consumers better understand the broadband market and the benefits of engagement. This includes working to raise consumer expectations such that they are providing the right pressure for companies to improve their services.
The BSG is working closely with industry and Ofcom to help ensure that consumers are fully engaged and understand any impact on them of the forthcoming changes to the PSTN network as it transitions to an All-IP over the next few years.