Malaysian telcos, MCMC pledge to improve consumer experience

  • Non-complex complaints to be resolved within three days
  • MCMC to draft General Compensation Plan


(From left) Digi chief corporate affairs officer Joachim Rajaram; Maxis CEO Gokhan Ogut; TM MD and group CEO Noor Kamarul Anuar Nuruddin; MCMC chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak; Celcom Axiata CEO Idham Nawawi; U Mobile CEO Wong Heang Tuck; and YTL Communications CEO Wing K Lee

SIGNING up with a telco is like getting into a relationship. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it becomes a semi-abusive love-hate relationship that lasts years and makes everyone exhausted. 

Thing is, it shouldn’t be. Internet penetration in Malaysia now stands at 80%, with users spending an average of eight hours and five minutes online. Hootsuite and We Are Social’s Digital 2019 report states that Malaysia was ranked top five globally, and highest in Southeast Asia, when it comes to mobile social media penetration.

In short, things are no longer a casual fling. It needs to be a commitment, which means that telcos need to do their part in providing better consumer experiences.

Now, they’re pledging to do their best. On June 14, the CEOs of the telecommunications sector in Malaysia gathered under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) banner to sign the Consumer First Pledge.

Under this pledge, all telco chief executive officers promise to delivery various improvements to consumer experience and customer service.

This includes providing an efficient and courteous consumer experience across all channels, transparent mechanisms for consumers to check their complaint status, a more accessible complaint handling process and, lastly, to enable fair and reasonable complaint resolution.

“In a market that serves 41.5 million broadband subscribers and 42.9 million mobile cellular subscribers, MCMC along with the telecommunication service providers must ensure that the network quality remains top notch and our engagements with the consumers are addressed in a quick fashion,” says MCMC chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak, who witnessed the signing ceremony.

“Ultimately, we want to provide the best telecommunication experience to all Malaysians.”

Faster responses

Under the pledge, there’s going to be a bump in how fast complaints are handled. Currently, all telcos comply with provisions stipulated in the General Consumer Code (GCC), which states that 90% of complaints received must be resolved within 15 working days and 95% of complaints received must be resolved within 30 working days.

The guidelines of the code will now be enhanced – all complaints received must now be resolved within three working days for less complex complaints (regarding issues like activation, change of plan and termination, for example), while complex complaints such as fraud and purchasing involving app stores must be resolved within 15 working days.

This improvement is expected to be in effect by the final quarter of 2019.

Besides that, the GCC will tighten consumer protection in the area of advertising to avoid confusion among customers. The code stipulates that terms, conditions and contracts are to be refined and communicated clearly to ensure consumer rights are fully protected.

Priority will also be afforded to the differently-abled, so that they would be able to receive proper attention based on their circumstances.

In his speech, Al-Ishsal noted that under the Applications Service Provider (ASP) license, compliance to the GCC is mandatory – failure to comply will lead to enforcement action, in which the offender shall be liable to a fine not exceeding RM100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.

“Therefore, it is crucial to strengthen the code and address the existing gaps to keep it up-to-date and relevant to the current technological march,” he says.

When asked about how MCMC will track the service quality and ensure that this is enforced, Al-Ishsal says that all parties are currently looking towards a more integrated system where MCMC will be able to track and receive the complaints sent to telcos and themselves, as well as the resolution time of each complaint.

At the moments, this data is shared amongst MCMC and the telcos manually – by moving towards a more integrated system, they hope that it will allow them to be more efficient.

“There is an existing system and process, but we are institutionalising it further towards clearer improvements, rather than customer service being just part of each of our operations,” he notes. 

Industry standards

Al-Ishsal adds that the MCMC is also drafting a General Compensation Plan (GCP), which will serve as a guide to streamline a compensation plan that ensures fast and fair resolution for consumers. At the moment, most telcos do not provide any form of compensation when it comes to issues like network outages (some providers have, on the other hand, given free data).

There are also other aspects that MCMC and the telcos will need to work together on improve, especially when it comes to coverage.

As noted by Celcom Axiata chief executive officer Idham Nawawi, network and coverage limitations relates to sites (for the network towers), and the ability to get them in the right place and at the right speeds.

“Currently in every state they have their own procedures, with state-run companies that we have to work with. The engagement we are doing now at an industry level, together with MCMC, is talking to them and making them realise how by improving some of these processes, by working closer with us, they can improve and help the consumer at the state,” he says.

Celcom themselves are working towards improving their consumer experience. They notably were recognised by Forbes as the Top 10 Most Customer-Focused Companies in Asia last year, and in January 2019 won the CEM Global Awards for Best-in-class Customer Engagement Tool.

One of their more fascinating initiatives is the Network Service Checker Smart Agent Tool. Launched in 28th March this year, the tool is designed for contact centre agents to troubleshoot network-related issues.

Typically, when a telco receives a complaint from a customer, they will have to get in touch with the network to understand the issue. With the Smart Agent Tool, contact centre agents get the details of the network serving the customer in front of them, letting them more easily check for network trouble due to maintenance, outage or network congestions.

Customers can also choose to be alerted on network trouble tickets via SMS or email, with Celcom being able to inform the customer when there is a network issue at the customer’s chosen location.

With the pledge signed, what remains now is to see that the promises are fulfilled.


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