Consumers are increasingly satisfied with the value they’re getting from their communications service providers. Dish Network and Charter Communications both took huge jumps in customer satisfaction.
But the two satellite companies still eclipse cable operators in terms of customer satisfaction, and in their first year in the survey, Verizon and AT&T trumped all competitors, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
Customer satisfaction with the category of cable and satellite TV rose in the first quarter to its highest level in 10 years, up 5 percent to 66 (on a 100-point scale).
Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-verse lead the way with scores of 73 and 72, respectively.
Dish Network rose 11 percent to 71, while DirecTV slipped to a rating of 68; this is the first time since 2005 that Dish’s rating exceeded that of DirecTV’s. ACSI attributed the reversal to aggressive pricing promotions by Dish coupled with a price increase by DirecTV.
Among MSOs, Charter Communications is still in last place, but it achieved a rating of 60 with the biggest improvement in this edition of the survey – a leap of 18 percent. Comcast and Time Warner Cable were both up 3 percent to 61. Cox Communications gained 2 percent to 67, leading all traditional cable companies for a seventh straight year, ACSI said.
“Having enjoyed near-monopoly status in most areas for many years, cable companies had little incentive to provide quality services at a good price,” said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of “The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference.”
“Now that satellite and fiber-optic TV providers have created a competitive challenge to cable, the cable companies have started to step up customer service and realize some gains in customer satisfaction, but they still remain far behind both satellite and fiber optics,” Fornell continued.
For all that seems like good news, every single one of the CSPs in the survey ranked below average; the national index for all services is 75.9.
In fixed-line telephony, AT&T (75) was followed by Cox Communications (74), Verizon (73), CenturyLink (70) and Comcast (68).
As for the wireless segment, the survey found that wireless customers in the U.S. are generally pretty happy with their service, regardless of their carrier.
According to the report, customer satisfaction with wireless service has set an all-time high for the second consecutive year, rising 4 percent to 72 percent overall satisfaction.
T-Mobile USA customers pushed their carrier 3 percentage points higher this year to come in at 73 percent satisfaction. That puts T-Mobile, the country's fourth-largest carrier, in a tie with Verizon Wireless, which lost a percentage point year-over-year.
AT&T Mobility improved by 3 percent, coming in at 69 percent. The report suggests that AT&T's network improvements could have something to do with that carrier's improved satisfaction scores.
Sprint Nextel, the nation's third-largest carrier, saw the largest improvement, gaining 11 points to come in at a 70 percent satisfaction rating. That builds on gains from the previous year, when Sprint rose 13 percent.
The ASCI has a margin of error of 3 percentage points in either direction, which puts all of the carriers at about the same level of satisfaction amongst their respective customers.
– Wireless Week’s Andrew Berg contributed to this report