Survey: Consumers Like Bundled Services


Consumers like the idea of bundling all of their advanced
services in a single bill, but so far, few are actually buying that way, according to a
new survey.

This bundling gap appears to be explained in other
responses to the second annual "Communications Preferences Survey," conducted by
PricewaterhouseCoopers. The survey details responses from 1,004 adult respondents -- 500
men and 504 women, 18 years and older

In it, people said they liked the idea of getting multiple
products -- including cable or satellite, telephony and Internet service -- from a single
company providing a single bill. But fewer than one-quarter of the respondents to the same
survey said they actually buy their services that way now.

Consumers also said that for their dedication to a single
company, they expected packages of "best-in-class" services and discounts for
their bundled purchases.

The project solicited users' satisfaction with local
telephone, long-distance telephone, cable, satellite and Internet-service providers.

It focused on billing options in part because for the
second year in a row, the study was commissioned by Kenan Systems Corp., a billing
provider to these industries that has just begun its push into the cable industry.

Specifically, 71 percent of the respondents said they
wanted one technology bill, but only 54 percent said they wanted all of the products from
a single company. In reality, only 23 percent said they currently buy two or more
technology products from a single company.

To lure homeowners to buy more products from cable
operators, the industry will have to continue to work on its customer-service image, the
study indicated. Cable and satellite providers ranked lowest as service companies, at 69
percent, after local and long-distance carriers, ISPs and wireless-telephone companies.

Users said their top service priority was uninterrupted
service, followed by complaint resolution within a single call, easy-to-understand bills,
a simple customer-service number to call for information and quick repairs.

Consumers don't think much of proactive contact by
their service providers: Only 3 percent said they considered calls to offer new services
to be a customer service.

Cable did rank first for the clarity of its bills, but when
there are questions, consumers said, it's easier to get correct information from any
other technology provider.

The survey helped to quantify the potential for marketing
Internet services in the near term. Just under 62 percent of those in the survey had
Internet access now. However, 45 percent of those without Internet access said they
anticipated surfing the Net in the next two years.

The most important factor for selecting an ISP will be
price, one-third of the participants said, followed by reliability, content and range of
services. Speed was only important to about 10 percent, followed by customer service and
brand name.

The most desirable premium Internet content was
downloadable "edutainment," or encyclopedias, followed by music CD-ROMs, private
phone teleconferencing and multiplayer games.