Broadband switching, the modern day essential that has failed consumers

The importance of a reliable and fairly priced broadband connection has never been clearer. As part of our mission to solve the consumer loyalty trap, the broadband market has always been a key vertical to tackle.

In the UK, consumers face an annual broadband loyalty penalty of c. £113, which is typically a 43% increase on the original contract price (Citizens Advice) and yet only 9% of consumers switch supplier each year (Ofcom).

Broadband switching is a more nascent market than energy or insurance. As the latest CMA study shows, only 10% of switches were via price comparison websites. Below we outline some key reasons for the low consumer engagement levels experienced within this market.

Few consumers understand exactly what services they require from a broadband package in terms of both speed and data. Often, consumers will also find that promoted offers aren’t available at their address/postcode. The lack of personalisation and mistargeting of offers frustrates and disengages consumers.

Some price comparison websites will use paid promoted slots, so recommendations are skewed to present “special offers” at the top because the supplier pays the comparison website more. We do not believe commercial deals with suppliers should influence how or which products are presented to consumers. 

A study by the Advertising Standards Authority found that when served with an ad for the first time, only 23% of consumers were able to correctly identify the total cost per month of a broadband deal. Complicated upfront, monthly and extra data charges layered on top of speed, contract length and bundled product fees (e.g. landline, digital TV) are the cause of this confusion. What’s more, “special offers” can dominate results pages, making comparing deals extra challenging for consumers and leaving them questioning if they are actually getting a fair ‘recommendation’. 

When a consumer identifies a product they want to buy, there are more hurdles to overcome. Price comparison websites are rarely mobile optimised and don’t offer a seamless, end-to-end user experience. Instead consumers are redirected to a suppliers website where they are required to find the deal they want to buy and re-enter their details to complete the purchase. 

Is it any wonder that only 9% of consumers switch broadband each year, leaving the average consumer £113 out of pocket each year.

With the above in mind, Youtility has built a platform with the consumer at its heart.

To help consumers receive more personalised quotes, we built a tool to help users identify what broadband speed/deal they need. We also ensure consumers are only viewing deals available at their address and can filter deals to suit their preferences. 

We never (and will never) offer sponsored or promoted posts and our algorithms do not use financial incentives to determine product recommendations. Instead we rank deals solely on an individual needs and preferences. We also use independent, consumer-led ratings from Trustpilot to supplement our rankings, meaning we’re offering consumers a fair and impartial assessment of the market.

Human centred design is at the core of our design work. All deals are displayed in the same, user tested design to ensure product recommendations are easily understood and provide the necessary information to make an informed decision.

Consumers access our comparison and saving integrations directly from their mobile banking or personal finance app/website. This allows for reduced user journeys and timely and personalised notifications that are far more powerful than existing tools. Whilst switching still requires a redirect to a populated basket, we are working towards removing this requirement and ensuring the process is frictionless.

The recent Open Communications consultation is a positive sign the industry is moving towards a better place where consumer empowerment is prioritised, likely to involve a data sharing standard akin to Open Banking. This will catalyse the build of sophisticated tools designed to reduce friction in the switching process and deliver hyper-personalised consumer centred solutions.

Broadband is a modern day essential utility yet >40% of UK consumers (11m homes) are on expensive out-of-contract deals. It is clear the incumbent price comparison websites have failed consumers and why we believe the Youtility platform is best placed to help your users/consumers get a no-nonsense view of the market and ultimately, empower their financial decision-making.

To find out more about how we can partner with you to offer your customers a next-generation comparison and switching service, do get in touch.