Cox Communications and Cablevision's Optimum Lightpath operation continued to rank highly in J.D. Powers' customer satisfaction surveys in the home office and SME business services categories.
Phone companies continue to come out on top in the enterprise category, which they have long served.
J.D. Power said that business customers are experiencing fewer and fewer outages of any duration, and as a result, simple network uptime has been reduced significantly as a factor in customer satisfaction.
Instead, customer satisfaction is now largely dependent on customer service. Interestingly, overall customer satisfaction rates have gone down. For one thing, when the network does go down, customers want an instant response. Second, this year's survey responses underscore how critical good customer service is becoming as a competitive differentiator.
"The greatest differences in satisfaction between customers who intend to switch and those who intend to stay with their current provider revolve around the empathy and responsiveness of account executives and customer service representatives," the company said.
On a more macroeconomic level, the study found signs of increasing economic optimism, with 53 percent of respondents forecasting growth in 2011, compared with 47 percent in 2010. This optimism has manifested itself in the number of large enterprise businesses that say they plan to add data lines in 2011 – 33 percent, compared with 30 percent in 2010.
Small- and mid-size businesses are collectively more conservative, J.D. Power reported, with 46 percent forecasting growth in 2011. Home-based businesses are the least optimistic, with 36 percent predicting growth in their businesses in 2011.
Home office: The top providers in order were: Cox, Lightpath, Verizon, AT&T, CenturyTel, Qwest (those two have just merged), TWC, Comcast and Charter.
SME: Lightpath, Cox, Comcast, Qwest, AT&T, Verizon, TWC.
Enterprise: Verizon, AT&T, TWC, Comcast.