J.D. PowerThe network outage performance gap separating major wireline network operators’ services may be shrinking, but network reliability remains a key driver for U.S. businesses considering switching providers, says J.D. Power.

When it comes to customers’ overall satisfaction with voice and data service providers, Cox ranked tops among large U.S. enterprises,  scoring 782 out of a possible 1,000 points, according to the J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Business Wireline Satisfaction Study. Verizon topped the ranks among very small businesses with a score of 727 and small/medium size businesses, with a score of 759, while average overall customer satisfaction among all providers came in at 700.

J.D. Power’s annual customer satisfaction report rates telecommunications network operators’ voice and data services according to business customer size – very small (1-19 employees), small/medium (20-500) and large enterprise businesses (>=500 employees). Customer satisfaction is measured across six parameters: performance and reliability (27 percent), cost of service (18 percent), sales representatives and account executives (19 percent), communications (15 percent), and customer service (12 percent).

“As annual improvements in network performance continue, such performance-related issues as network outages and reliability continue to be key elements of dissatisfaction for business and a reason to consider switching providers,” Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications services at J.D. Power, was quoted in a company press release.

“It’s imperative for telecom providers to communicate the improvements the industry has made relative to network performance and to provide quick resolution when issues do occur, as even minor outages can hamper business capabilities to service customers.”

Wireline Customer Satisfaction
Other key takeaways from J.D. Power’s latest annual business wireline customer satisfaction study include:

  • The industry average for short- and long-duration outages has declined significantly since 2011. The average number of short-duration data outages (lasting less than five minutes) experienced by customers during the past six months has decreased by more than 28 percent, to 3.4 incidents in 2014 from 4.7 in 2011. The average number of extended outages (greater than five minutes) has dipped more than 16 percent in the same period to 1.6 incidents in 2014 from 1.9 in 2011.
  • Among business customers who purchase voice services and experience two or more lengthy outages, 31 percent indicate they are likely to switch providers in the next 12 months, while only 11 percent of those who experience no outages indicate they will switch.
  • Among business customers who purchase data services and experience lengthy outages, the percentage indicating they are likely to switch providers in the next 12 months is more than triple that among those who do not experience lengthy outages (31% vs. 10%, respectively).
  • Nearly one in six (16%) business customers indicate the likelihood to switch their current telecom provider in the next 12 months.
  • Small/Medium size businesses have the highest future switching intent at 20 percent, while very small businesses have the lowest switching intent at 15 percent. Reasons for switching providers include obtaining better pricing (73%); new features or service plans offered (30%); favorable pricing options (29%); and better/more reliable service performance (28%).
  • The top reason for businesses choosing their current telecom provider was price (17%), while the second most frequently cited reason was network reliability/quality/broadband speeds (13%).
  • The main reason businesses contact customer care is network-related problems, either due to reporting an outage, service disruption/disconnected or poor/bad reception (28%). The next highest contact inquiry is to inquire about a product or service (11%).

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