Meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations with regard to the speed of their Internet connections is a key driver when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ “2011 U.S. Internet Service Provider Residential Customer Service Satisfaction Study.”
The survey – now in its 14th year – measures customer satisfaction with high-speed Internet service based on five factors: performance and reliability; cost; billing; offerings and promotions; and customer service.
J.D. Power researchers found that customers’ expectations with regard to speed was achieved 69% of the time and was exceeded 17% of the time. Fourteen percent found their Internet speed to be below expectations.
“With streaming video continuing to grow in popularity, supporting customer demand for bandwidth and download speeds presents many challenges for the industry,” said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates. “The importance of meeting these challenges is clear: customers are considerably more satisfied when their expectations are met or exceeded.”
Overall satisfaction averages 755 on a 1,000-point scale among those who consider their Internet speed to be better than expected. That was 129 index points higher than the industry average.
Survey results also showed that the proportion of customers who contact customer service increased 8% from 2010, to 39% in 2011. In addition, the number of customers reporting an outage increased year-over-year to 34% from 27%.
“The financial implications of outages are significant,” said Perazzini. “Among customers who experience an outage, the percentage who say they ‘probably will’ or ‘definitely will’ switch providers in the next 12 months is 21 percent, compared with only 15 percent of those who did not experience an outage.”
The percentage of customers who contacted customer service by telephone increased to 92% this year from 81% in 2010. “Service providers have apparently lost some of the operational efficiencies they realized in 2010,” said Perazzini. “Although the average cost of a customer contact varies across carriers and the reasons for contact, handling a telephone call is enormously more expensive than any other mode of customer contact.”
Breaking out customer satisfaction across four regions, J.D. Powers found that Verizon ranked the highest in the East with an index score of 640, performing particularly well in three of five factors: offerings and promotions; cost of service; and performance and reliability. Cox ranked second with a score of 635 and AT&T third with an index score of 626.
Verizon also took top honors in the South region with a score of 665. Bright House Networks’ Roadrunner service ranked second with a score of 658, and Cox ranked third with a score of 654.
In the North Central region, WOW! ranked first with a score of 708, Insight Communications followed with a 651, and AT&T ranked third with an index score of 642.
Cox took top honors in the West, with a score of 645. Verizon ranked second with a 632, and Comcast’s Xfinity third with a 619.