Customer Satisfaction in the Business Access Segment: 1&1 Versatel

Measuring Customer Satisfaction

1&1 Versatel, the business-to-business (B2B) provider of fiber-optic gigabit connections, is an experienced partner for companies from all sectors and of all sizes: it has implemented more than 50,000 business customer solutions and has more than 100 carrier customers. The company polls customer satisfaction using a five-point customer satisfaction scale and the net promoter score (NPS), an established way of measuring customer willingness to recommend products or services to others. Semi-annual surveys of existing customers are performed by an external market research institute.

Satisfaction is polled for specific customer groups and customer segments, including large customers, wholesale customers (i.e., other telecommunications providers such as mobile and fixed network carriers, cable network operators, national and international B2B telecommunications providers, resellers, and city and regional carriers), and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Overall satisfaction is calculated using the weighted average of the individual results for the three customer segments.

The Company conducts an in-depth poll of all existing customers twice a year to obtain a comprehensive overview of customer satisfaction (wholesale customers are surveyed once a year). Whereas SME customers were surveyed online in the past, polls for all segments have been made by phone since the beginning of 2020. We also use panel surveys to obtain a comparative benchmark of how satisfied competitors’ customers are.

Equally, a large number of contact points – such as the service hotline for SME customers – measure customer satisfaction on an ongoing basis. In December 2019, we introduced a phone-based customer satisfaction survey following the successful implementation of fiber-optic links, and this was successively enhanced in 2020. Customers reacted positively to the opportunity for dialog. A standardized survey instrument for large customers was introduced in 2020; this allows the responsible business service managers to regularly capture customer satisfaction in this group over the year.

Managing and Enhancing Customer Satisfaction

Surveys are designed and coordinated by 1&1 Versatel’s Quality & Knowledge Management department. This unit, which reports to the Chief Operating Officer (COO), was established in December 2018 to pool all customer satisfaction issues at a cross-departmental level.

Based on the results of the customer surveys, Quality & Knowledge Management identified a need for action in relation to customer-centric communication, among other things. This led to guiding principles for communication being formulated for use in dealings with customers:

  • We are solution-driven.

  • We listen to our customers and answer their questions directly.

  • We are reliable.

  • We communicate rapidly and flexibly.

  • We take responsibility – including for our mistakes.

In addition, the department is continuing its analysis of key customer-centric processes and introducing measures to optimize them.

We also look at external assessments. As a nationwide provider, 1&1 Versatel took part for the first time in this year’s broadband test organized by “PC-Magazin” in cooperation with umlaut, the management consultancy. The newcomer immediately put in a compelling showing, outstripping the competition to win with 947 out of a maximum total of 1,000 points. The broadband test made roughly 113 million individual measurements of more than 520,000 internet connections in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland over a period of six months. The key parameters measured were data download rates, data upload speeds, and latency (defined here as the time taken to transfer the test data packages). In particular, the 1&1 Versatel fiber-optic connections offered the best user experience for download rates compared to the other providers.

In addition, 1&1 Versatel yet again achieved compelling rankings in the analysis of the most popular service providers for German SMEs conducted by business magazine “WirtschaftsWoche” and ranking and rating agency ServiceValue. More than 9,000 decision-makers, purchasing agents, and users in SMEs were polled during the survey. Seven criteria were used in addition to general customer satisfaction, including the quality of the advice provided, the price-performance ratio, and service quality. Customer responses were obtained for a total of 376 suppliers in 34 sectors. 1&1 Versatel did very well in two categories (telecommunications telephony/internet and telecommunications telephony/internet/ mobile), coming first in the former case.