The path to consumers’ hearts for telecom companies is paved with higher performance and better reliability. These attributes define the customer experience, and the better a company provides them, the better chance a company can hold on to its subscribers and get them to advocate for the company.
By those measures, Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) still have a lot of work to do, at least as television service providers. The same two firms brought up the rear in last year’s survey as well, so one may reasonably ask if the two will ever change.
Consumer research firm J.D. Power reported on Thursday the results of its latest survey rating providers based on satisfaction of TV service, Internet service and wireline phone service. The company surveyed more than 30,000 customers and scores are based on a possible 1,000-point scale. Scores were reported based on four U.S. regions: East, North Central, South and West.
Neither Comcast (Xfinity) nor Time Warner Cable ever achieved a rating that would place them out of the “also-ran” category among television service providers. Charter Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR), currently in the process of acquiring Time Warner, did no better in the regions where it offers service — the North Central, South and West.
Comcast, Time Warner and Charter also fared poorly as Internet service providers, ranking no better than “about average” in any region where the companies offered service. And as wireline telephone service providers, none of the three rated higher than “also-rans” again.
Just as an example: in the 2014 survey Comcast’s rating as a television service provider was 684, and the company’s score this year rose to 689. Last year’s average score in the East region was 706, and the top score was 738. In 2015 the average rose by 15 points and the top score rose by 33 points. Time Warner’s rating improved by 18 points year over year to 686 in 2015.
Among other companies included in the survey were Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH), Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and DirecTV, now owned by AT&T.
Verizon’s FiOS fiber-optic service earned the top rating in the television service provider category with a score of 777 in the South region. AT&T and DirecTV led the North Central region with scores of 750; DirecTV led in the East region with a score of 771; and Dish Network led in the West with a score of 761.
The top-rated Internet service provider score was posted by Verizon, which scored 749 to lead in the South, scored 749 to lead in the West and 738 to lead in the East. AT&T was the top-rated Internet service provider in the North Central region with a score of 726.
Verizon was the top-rated wireline telephone service provider in the East (with a score of 769) and South (773) regions, and the second-rated (757) provider behind AT&T (758) in the West. AT&T was the top-rated wireline phone service in the North Central region with a score of 758.
An executive at J.D. Power had the following observation:
The ability to provide a high-quality experience with all wireline services is paramount, as performance and reliability [are] the most critical driver[s] of overall satisfaction. The fact that households continue to choose to upgrade their wireline connection to digital service is a testament to its improved performance and benefits, such as higher quality video and faster Internet speeds.
On the 2014 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), Internet service providers and pay-TV companies scored lowest among all industries, so the J.D. Power results are no surprise.