While overall customer satisfaction has waned a bit, Cox Communications and Comcast made strides in the latest study by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which was released today.
The report, which focuses on the first quarter of 2009, found that overall customer satisfaction in the cable and satellite TV section declined 2 percent, for a score of 63 on ACSI’s 100-point scale. (See the ACSI’s Q1 2008 study here.)
For the sixth-straight year, Cox, the nation’s third-largest cable operator, led all cable operators in ACSI’s study, and its score of 66 was an all-time high. Overall, Cox saw a 4.8 percent increase in customer satisfaction from the last report to the current one.
Comcast had the biggest leap in the cable and satellite category, with a 9.3 percent increase for a score of 59. The ACSI said Comcast appeared to benefit from addressing customer complaints via feedback on blogs and on Twitter.
On the flip side, Charter Communications was down 6 percent to 51, which ACSI said was a record low for any company in the 15-year history of the customer satisfaction indexes.
Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second-largest MSO, saw no change from last year to the current survey with its score of 59.
Customers surveyed by the ACSI in the first quarter of 2009 were asked about such issues as perceived quality, perceived value and their expectations prior to subscribing to the service. The ACSI also measures customer loyalty and retention.
Among cable and satellite video providers, DirecTV scored the highest with a 71, which represented a 4.4 percent increase over its previous score of 68. Dish Network scored a 64, which was a 1.5 percent decrease and a historical low for the company.
The ACSI report said two years ago that Dish and DirecTV were deadlocked with scores of 67, but Dish has seen its customer satisfaction index rating drop for three straight years.
Since satellite providers partner with telecommunications companies to offer additional services such as voice and data, the ACSI said that DirecTV may have benefited from its partnership with Verizon Wireless, which had a high score of 74 in the wireless telephone service category. By contrast, Dish’s partner, Sprint Nextel, had the lowest store in the wireless category, with a 63.
Among fixed line phone providers, smaller and local long distance providers – including Vonage – led the index with a score of 75 percent, while Cox was second with a 74, which was the same score Cox had previously.
Comcast, the only other cable operator in this category, saw its score slip to 67, which was a 3 percent decrease.
AT&T, Qwest and Verizon all scored 71, but AT&T saw a 5.3 decrease from its prior industry-high score of 75. The ACSI cited problems with bundling its services, customer satisfaction deficiencies and slower-than-expected rollouts of U-verse as the primary culprits for AT&T’s decline.
In the mobility category, AT&T fell 6 percent to 67. ACSI said the decline may be related to the iPhone creating a strain on the network, which has led to complaints about slow and spotty performance.
Overall, the ACSI continued to climb, registering a second-straight quarterly improvement after a period of decline preceding the recession. For the first quarter of 2009, the index jumped 0.4 percent to 76.
“Stock prices have been rising, real estate is showing signs of life, consumer confidence is up, corporate earnings are mixed but generally better than expectations, and inventories are becoming more in line with demand and, above all, consumer spending rebounded in the first quarter,” said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI. “It is too early to predict whether the recession has bottomed out, but since ACSI is usually a precursor to increasing consumer demand, it could very well be signaling a revival for a very depressed U.S. economy.”
The ACSI is an economic indicator based on customer evaluations of the quality of household goods and services purchased in the United States. The ACSI independently measures the customer satisfaction of approximately 200 companies in 44 household consumer industries. The index was first compiled in 1994 at the National Quality Research Center (NQRC) in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and now it is produced by the NQRC in partnership with the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and CFI Group.