Customers’ satisfaction with their residential phone service has risen for the second year running, according to J.D. Power and Associates ‘2010 U.S. Residential Telephone Customer Satisfaction Study.’ Overall satisfaction increased 4 points on a 1,000-point scale this year as compared to last, reaching 657. Since 2008, overall satisfaction has increased 22 points, the largest two-year improvement in the study’s 15-year history, according to the report, which was released Sept. 15. As has been the case for the past couple years, cable companies lead telcos in voice satisfaction.

Rising 8 points, gains in satisfaction with customer service was the primary force driving the improvement. Within this category, there was notable improvement in satisfaction with first-call resolution interactive voice response (IVR) systems, which increased 6.46 points year-to-year.

“Issues with IVR menus have been a thorn in the side of service providers for years,” Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates, was quoted as saying in a news release. “The ongoing efforts of providers to streamline IVR options for customers has led to improved satisfaction with the ease of navigating phone menus and speed of reaching a customer service representative.”

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Furthermore, 31% of overall satisfaction among customers who have contacted customer service during the past year can be attributed to the quality of customer care interaction, according to the report. “The quality of the contact can pay dividends through decreased intention to switch providers,” Perazzini noted. “The stated likelihood of customers to switch providers within the next year declines from 13 percent overall to 7 percent among those who are highly satisfied with their customer service experience.”

The annual report measures customer satisfaction with local and long-distance service across four regions based on five factors: performance and reliability; cost of service; billing; offerings and promotions; and customer service.

Regionally, Cablevision’s Optimum Voice came out on top in the East with an overall satisfaction score of 689, followed by Cox with a score of 677 and Windstream with a score of 671. Bright House Networks came out on top in the South with a 724 score, followed by Cox with 701 and Verizon with a score of 673. WideOpenWest (WOW!) ranked highest in the North Central region with a score of 742, followed by Cincinnati Bell with 696 and TDS Telecom with 694. Cox ranked first in the West with a 693 score, followed by Time Warner Cable with 661 and Qwest with a score of 653.

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