Telecom Timeout

Jun 18 2014   8:32AM GMT

Customer satisfaction report points to provider highs and lows

Katherine Finnell Katherine Finnell Profile: Katherine Finnell

Internet service providers

Fixed-line telephone services have the happiest customers, but more customers are abandoning landlines in favor of wireless phone services, according to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index report.

The report shows not only customer attitudes toward Internet and telephone service providers, but where providers are succeeding or failing in their services. The report indicates customer satisfaction in several areas including customer service, quality of service and performance.

Fixed-line telephone services had a mixed bag of ratings from customers. While it had the highest ratings among telecommunications service providers, customers are abandoning landlines.. Nearly 4 in 10 households now rely solely on mobile phone services, according to ASCI. But customers that keep their landline services tend to be the most satisfied and loyal.

Customers reported satisfaction with the variety of services available at 82% for both 2013 and 2014, ease of understanding their bills (79% in 2013, 81% in 2014) and website (74% for both years).

While customer satisfaction was high overall, service providers saw scores drop in other areas. Call quality in terms of clarity and strength, and the ability of providers to keep service outages to a minimum both saw a drop from 84% in 2013 to 82%. Reliability of phone service also saw a drop to 82% this year from 83% in 2013. Customer service also took hits, as ratings for the helpfulness of operators and information services decreased from 79% in 2013 to 78%. Call center satisfaction also dropped from 68% in 2013 to 66% in 2014.

Wireless telephone service providers fared the best when it came to providing customers with satisfactory service. Customers reported satisfaction with the ease of understanding their bills, call quality in terms of clarity and strength, speed of purchase and the range of available wireless voice and data plans. Satisfaction in terms of wireless network coverage increased to 79% from 78% in 2013; data upload and download speed and reliability satisfaction increased to 75% from 72% in 2013; and satisfaction with call quality, measured in terms of the frequency of dropped calls, increased to 77% from 76% in 2013.

On the down side, customer satisfaction dipped in customer-service-related areas. While customers report that in-store staff are courteous and helpful, the satisfaction score dropped from 82% in 2013 to 80% this year. Call-center satisfaction also dropped to 66%, down from 68% in 2013, which was below the average call center score of 70.4% aggregated across all industries.

Internet service providers (ISPs), however, saw customer satisfaction decrease in several service areas. ISPs saw a big jump in satisfaction in data transfer speeds, 71% in 2013 to 76% in 2014, but ACSI said the improvement was muted by downturns in other areas.

ISPs also saw major decreases satisfaction toward performance and customer service. Customer satisfaction with ISPs’ ability to keep service outages to a minimum dropped from 74% in 2013 to 71% this year. Satisfaction in terms of performance during peak service hours decreased from 70% in2013 to 66% in 2014. Satisfaction toward the quality of other services like email, data storage and security decreased from 72% in 2013 to 68% this year. Customer satisfaction toward the consistency of speed and service also dropped to 69% this year, from 72% in 2013. Call center performance had the lowest customer satisfaction score at 58% this year, down from 62%, and was the lowest score among all telecommunications services surveyed.

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