Cable Tops J. D. Power Phone Survey

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For the second year in a row, cable companies dominated the annual customer-satisfaction survey of residential telephone customers conducted by J.D. Power & Associates.

But the survey also showed that those consumers would rather use online self-help than dial into call centers. Even though 80% of those polled said they buy services or get help by calling the company, the 16% who had access to Web self-help had a higher satisfaction score with their provider.

According to the report, Web users had a 641 satisfaction score (on a 1,000-point scale), compared with a 629 score by call-center users, a 12-point difference.

“In an increasingly competitive market where providers are constantly seeking ways to better manage the costs associated with service support, promoting Web sites as a viable service channel instead of traditional telephone-based support can create significant cost savings,” said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates in a prepared statement.

“The good news is that customers are responding positively to the Web option. Voice provider Web sites offer customers useful ways to manage their billing needs, review their account information and explore available product and service offerings,” he added.

The top providers, by region, are Cablevision Systems Corp. in the East; Bright House Networks in the South; WideOpenWest in the North Central and Cox Communications in the West.

“We wanted Optimum Voice to completely redefine expectations for how good, functional and valuable a phone service could be, with unlimited calling and a great array of included features — and without the extra fees and hidden charges consumers had come to expect from the phone company, which makes today’s recognition from a firm as respected as J.D. Power and Associates particularly meaningful,” said Cablevision vice president of digital voice product management Joe Varello, in a statement.

J.D. Power creates its rankings based on consumer impressions on five factors: customer service; performance and reliability; cost of service; billing; and offerings and promotions. Of the regional winners, Bright House Networks and WOW tied with the highest score, 707.

Of interest is the fact that three of the regional winners, Cablevision, Bright House and WOW, topped their segments without having the highest score for service reliability. Only Cox ranked highest for its region in all five factors, according to the research firm. Cox also scored second-place finishes in the southern and northern regions.

Satisfaction was also 23 points higher among customers who bought two or more products from their provider than those who only bought telephone services, according to the survey.

J.D. Power developed the rankings with the scores provided by 13,600 consumers polled in July.

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