Monday, April 09, 2007

USA - corporate data services

J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Assigning a Single Point of Contact Can Have a Considerable Impact on Customer Satisfaction With Data Services

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AT&T and Verizon Rank Highest in Satisfying Business Customers With Telecommunications Data Services

/PRNewswire/ -- Data service providers that assign a specific point of contact to business customers when issues or questions arise average customer satisfaction scores more than 80 index points higher (on a 1,000-point scale) than providers without a dedicated account team, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Major Provider Business Telecommunications Study(SM) released today.

The study measures customer satisfaction with providers of data services, such as cable modem, DSL, T1, T3/DS3, Ethernet and Frame Relay. Rankings are compiled in two segments: small/midsize businesses (companies with 2 to 499 employees) and large enterprise businesses (companies with 500 or more employees). Seven key factors are used to measure satisfaction: performance and reliability; billing; cost of service; sales representatives/account executives; company image; offerings and promotions; and customer service.

Overall satisfaction increases by 93 points among small/midsize businesses and by 81 points among large enterprises when there is a designated account representative, account team or special service such as a specified 800 number to contact for sales and service. Currently, 43percent of small/midsize business customers and 68 percent of large enterprises indicate they have a single point of contact with their data services provider, which is essentially flat among customers in both segments versus 2006.

"Customer service and enhanced account management are increasingly important among large enterprises in particular, as better customer service is the top reason why businesses in this segment would consider switching data providers -- up from the fourth-most-frequently cited reason in 2006," said Steve Kirkeby, executive director of telecommunications and technology at J.D. Power and Associates. "In light of cable companies making inroads into the business data market in recent years, providing more customizedservice options to businesses is one way many legacy telephone providers are rededicating themselves to providing the best product and service experience they can possibly deliver."

AT&T ranks highest in customer satisfaction in the large enterprise business segment, performing particularly well in performance and reliability, image, sales representatives/account executive and customer service. Verizon follows AT&T in the segment.

Verizon leads the small/midsize business segment, receiving high ratings from customers in six of the seven factors that drive overall satisfaction: performance and reliability, cost of service, sales representatives/account executives, company image, offerings and promotions, and customer service. Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable, respectively, follow Verizon in the segment.

The study also finds that total customer-reported spending for data services among businesses in the small/midsize segment has increased considerably, from $2,934 in 2006 to $4,658 in 2007. Much of the increase can be attributed to a large boost in the number of small/midsize businesses using private lines in their data networks to connect wide-area networks (WANs) and local-area networks (LANs). At the same time, the desire to bundle services remains strong within both the small/midsize business and large enterprise segments. The percentage of small/midsize businesses that say they "definitely would" or "probably would" bundle is down by 1 percentage point in 2007 (48%) compared to 2006, while bundle intent among large enterprise customers is up 3 percentage points (50%) from 2006.

"Business customers have a need for back-up and survivability alternatives, which impacts their likelihood to trust and bundle all of their services with one provider," said Kirkeby. "As network stability and survivability issues wane, customers are becoming more trusting of providers, and the willingness to bundle will remain strong in the short term."

The 2007 Major Provider Business Telecommunications Services Study is based on responses from 2,855 business customers with telecom services at small/midsize and large enterprise businesses in the United States and includes evaluation of their data and voice service providers. The second part of this three-part study, an evaluation of wireline voice services, will be released in late April, and wireless services will be released in mid-May.

Customer Satisfaction Index Scores:

Small/Midsize Business
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Verizon 707
Cox Communications 692
Time Warner Cable 683
Small/Midsize Business Segment Average 678
AT&T* 671
Qwest 670
Comcast 637

Customer Satisfaction Index Scores:

Large Enterprise Business
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

AT&T* 737
Verizon 735
Large Enterprise Segment Average 733
Comcast 718
Qwest 714
Time Warner Cable 709

*AT&T includes BellSouth customers. BellSouth was acquired by AT&T in 2006.

From PRNewswire

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