Service Quality Metrics

In a range of service industries, consumers often encounter poor quality unrelated to price, including:

  • Unexpected outages
  • Inexplicable fees and charges
  • Transfer issues;
  • Billing errors; and,
  • Long wait times to speak to unhelpful customer service.

Repeated poor service is not only frustrating but can result in reduced consumer trust in providers to deliver positive outcomes.

Lack of transparency in service industries leads to information asymmetry, where the information the provider has does not match the information the consumer has. This prevents consumers assessing and differentiating between firms based on non-price attributes.

Where consumers cannot choose a provider based on these measures, businesses will face little competitive pressure to improve their practices. CPRC considers this information as key to consumer choice and relates directly to our second Precondition in our conceptual framework.

In partnership with RMIT Behavioural Business Lab, CPRC is undertaking a project with several research components to investigate the non-price attributes consumers consider meaningful when comparing energy providers and whether provision of this information affects consumer choices.

This includes:

  1. Qualitative research with consumers to identify the issues that are important;
  2. Lab testing to find out how important these attributes are in;
  3. Consumer research to find out how consumers respond to formats of this information; and,
  4. Consumer research in the lab, and subsequently the field, to identify whether the information assists consumers to make decisions or influences decisions.

Other project partners include the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning, Essential Services Commission, and Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria. The aim is to provide evidence-based recommendations into a variety of forthcoming policy and regulatory processes.