Just one-third of U.S. broadband subscribers (34%) would be likely to recommend their service providers to a friend, yet low satisfaction does not appear to be significantly contributing to broadband churn factors, according to a consumer survey from software provider Incognito. It’s said that every dark cloud has a silver lining, however.
The biggest and most frequently cited issues U.S. broadband subscribers have can be identified and resolved given use of the proper tools, researchers noted. Moreover, most subscribers do not switch broadband providers despite their dissatisfaction, Vancouver-based Incognito Software Systems highlights in a press release.
Broadband service providers typically rank at or near the bottom of American Consumer Satisfaction Indexes (ACSI), Incognito points out. That prompted Incognito to produce its broadband QoE research in a bid to reveal not just the degree, but the reasons underlying customer dissatisfaction and its contribution to broadband churn factors.
Broadband Satisfaction Survey
Service speed (or rather lack thereof), WiFi reliability and limited pricing options led the list of QoE influences for broadband subscribers in Incognito’s new study titled ¨The 2016 Incognito Broadband Consumer Quality of Experience (QoE) Survey.¨ Approaching half of the survey respondents said service speed was the most influential factor associated with whether or not they would recommend their broadband service provider to a friend.
For 3 in 10 respondents (31%) it was WiFi reliability. And just over one fifth (21%) pegged pricing and service bundling as the most important influence.
Other key takeaways include:
- When given the option of improving just one facet of their current Internet experience, 39 percent of overall respondents chose pricing.
- The next highest selection was speed, which garnered 25 percent of the vote.
- While the percentages varied a bit by region, suburban dwellers placed a higher emphasis on pricing than their counterparts in urban or rural environments. 35 percent of respondents in urban areas selected pricing, followed by 26 percent who picked speed. In contrast, those in suburban areas chose pricing most frequently (46 percent). Speed was chosen by just 19 percent. Just over one third (35 percent) of rural respondents preferred more favorable pricing compared to 26 percent of rural respondents who cited faster speeds.
Delving deeper, Incognito found that attractive pricing helps retain customers. Nothing outdoes faster broadband speeds when it comes to attracting new customers, however; although high levels of WiFi reliability followed closely behind.
Overall, the three biggest factors associated with subscriber QoE were also the three most significant in terms of attracting new broadband customers. According to Incognito:
- 33 percent of respondents would be interested in changing service providers for faster Internet, while 32 percent would do so for more pricing options, and 28 percent for more reliable WiFi.
- Among the youngest demographic (18-24-year-olds) living in urban areas, those numbers jump to 49 percent for speed and 46 percent for reliable WiFi, while the ratio of respondents choosing pricing options remains nearly unchanged.
The growing desire for better WiFi is further reflected by 40 percent of all respondents selecting “better WiFi hotspot coverage” as their most desired value-added service.
“In this era of subscriber monetization, it’s essential that broadband providers clearly grasp what’s important to their existing subscribers,” Incognito president and CEO Stephane Bourque was quoted. “As our survey shows, providers are expected to do more than ever before – provide faster speeds, lower prices and superior WiFi capabilities to live up to their subscribers’ demands.
¨To meet this high bar, providers must seek out the appropriate tools to gather smarter network insights, improve device and home network management capabilities, and provide subscribers with tailored services that meet their unique needs.”
Most Popular Broadband Activities and Devices
Investigating broadband usage, Incognito’s broadband satisfaction survey found that Web browsing remains the most common primary online activity among respondents (60%). Desktop and laptop computers remain the most common means of device connectivity (63%).
Other results indicate that use of other devices is a rising trend, however:
- 16 percent of 18-24-year-old respondents use the Internet primarily for streaming video and music – which is over 2.5 times more than the rest of the adult population.
- The growing use of phones and tablets for bandwidth-heavy purposes forces providers to supply higher-quality data services to even more devices.
- 51 percent of respondents regularly access the Internet via smartphone, including 67 percent of 18-24-year-olds.
Broadband Churn Factors
While dissatisfaction prompts broadband subscribers to consider switching providers, most wind up not switching, Incognito’s broadband satisfaction survey revealed. Three in 10 survey respondents (31%) said they had considered switching providers during the past year, but just 10% actually did so. Furthermore:
- Although a combined 40 percent of respondents have either changed their service provider or contemplated doing so, 32 percent have not considered switching in the past 12 months at all.
- A further 28 percent answered that the decision is not solely theirs to make.
Turning to pricing options, charging based on usage did not appear to affect broadband subscribers’ opinions, according to Incognito. Broadband providers could benefit by making a greater effort to educate customers regarding the issue, however, according to Incognito.
Just 15% of respondents in the Incognito broadband satisfaction survey said they would prefer switching from their current payment plan to usage-based pricing, providing interesting insight into broadband churn factors. Furthermore:
- 58 percent of respondents would not want to pay based on the Internet data they actually incurred over the given billing period, meaning there are nearly four times as many people who oppose usage-based billing than there are who support it.
- Over a quarter of respondents (28 percent), however, don’t understand what is meant by “usage-based bandwidth billing” in the first place, which suggests that more information on the concept could clarify public opinion or even make usage-based billing more palatable.
Image courtesy of flickr user Sean MacEntee.