Cox Communications, Bright House Networks and WideOpenWest were the top dogs in their respective regions in the latest J.D. Power and Associates customer service satisfaction study.
Cox took the top spot in the East Region and was second behind Bright House Networks in the South Region. Cox was also first in the West Region, while WideOpenWest was first in the North Central Region.
"The most important recognition we can receive is from the customers we serve each day," Cox spokesman Todd Smith said. "We continue to strive to deliver competitive products, backed by excellent customer service, and the latest J.D. Power and Associates survey validates these efforts."
It was the sixth win for Bright House Networks.
"We are definitely pleased to take home yet another J.D. Power award," Bright House spokeswoman Kimberly Maki said. "Congratulations to our employees who work hard to achieve and sustain this top honor."
The study measured customer satisfaction with both local and long-distance telephone service across the four regions. Five factors were used to determine overall satisfaction: performance and reliability, cost of service, billing, offerings and promotions, and customer service.
Based on a 1,000 point scale, the provider results by region included:
- East Region: Cox Communications was first with a score of 659, performing particularly well in performance and reliability, billing, and offerings and promotions. Cablevision was second in the region with 647, and Verizon third with 640. Other results included AT&T with 635, Comcast with 628, Time Warner Cable with 626 and Frontier with 615.
- South Region: Bright House Networks ranked highest in the region with a score of 704 and performed well in all five factors. Following Bright House in the rankings were Cox Communications with 680, AT&T and Verizon with 637, Time Warner Cable with 636, Windstream with 632, CenturyLink with 629, Charter Communications with 621 and Comcast with 621.
- North Central Region: WideOpenWest ranked highest with a score of 721, which was also the highest overall score in all of the regions. Cincinnati Bell was second with 665, followed by AT&T with 631, Time Warner Cable with 630, Comcast with 626, CenturyLink with 616, Charter with 612 and Frontier with 591.
- West Region: Cox Communications scored 669, performing well across all five areas. CenturyLink was second overall with a 639, followed by Comcast at 634, Qwest at 633, Time Warner Cable at 631, Verizon at 623, AT&T at 609 and Charter at 589.
J.D. Power noted that the previous severe winter led to service outages that had a negative impact on the service providers' results this time around.
Satisfaction with performance and reliability – the most influential factor contributing to overall satisfaction – declined by 6 percent to an average of 7.4 percent on a 10-point scale in 2011, from 7.9 percent in 2010. Within this factor, satisfaction with the service provider's ability to keep outages to a minimum experienced the biggest decline.
"The brutal winter weather that plagued much of the country clearly took a toll on service levels," said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates. "In fact, the proportion of customers who contacted customer service to report an outage jumped to 21 percent in 2011 from 12 percent in 2010."
The study also found that the use of Internet calling services such as Skype and Vonage increased to 21 percent in 2011 from 16 percent in 2010. On the downside, customers who used Internet calling services were significantly less satisfied with their telephone provider and were more likely to switch telephone providers.
The 2011 U.S. Residential Telephone Customer Satisfaction Study was based on responses from 20,761 customers nationwide who received their local and long-distance telephone service from one provider.