JD Power: Advanced Tech Key to Biz Services

July 21, 2016
According to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Business Wireline Satisfaction Study, technology-advanced services such as fiber-optic Internet access ...

According to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Business Wireline Satisfaction Study, technology-advanced services such as fiber-optic Internet access, cloud computing, security solutions, Web hosting and videoconferencing applications generate additional monthly revenue for wireline business service providers and also increase customer satisfaction across all segments of business customers.

The annual study measures customer satisfaction with providers of telecommunication voice and data services in three segments: large enterprise businesses; small/medium businesses; and very small businesses. Satisfaction is measured in six factors (in order of importance): performance and reliability (27%); cost of service (18%); communications (15%); sales representatives and account executives (15%); billing (14%); and customer service (12%). Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

Business service providers have become more aggressive in the marketplace by offering competitive pricing and service plans. This strategy helps providers differentiate themselves from the competition while offering additional value to existing customers and attracting new customers. As such, providers offering value-added services that improve technology capabilities for their business customers achieve higher overall satisfaction scores than do providers not offering such services.

For example, overall satisfaction among business customers who subscribe to videoconferencing applications is 816, which is 75 index points higher than the overall industry average score of 741. Offering security solutions to protect against corporate hacking (812) and cloud computing (794) are other advanced technology services that lead to higher overall satisfaction.

The services also generate additional revenue. Subscribing to advanced services increases the industry average company bill of $322 to $582 among subscribers to cloud computing services; to $766 among subscribers to security solutions; and to $792 among subscribers to videoconferencing applications.

"Similar to the residential telecom segment, competition is also fierce in the business segment," said Kirk Parsons, senior director and technology, media & telecom practice leader at J.D. Power. "It's imperative for telecom providers to make sure their existing customers have an excellent experience and to provide more value-added services that affect the bottom line, especially when it comes to business data services. It really boils down to a customer's perception of value in relation to the cost of the service. When business customers see the value, they are less likely to switch to another provider and more likely to remain loyal to the brand in the future."

In the large enterprise business segment, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) ranks highest with an overall score of 827. For a second consecutive year, AT&T (NYSE:T) ranks highest in the small/medium business segment, with a score of 803. Cox Communications ranks highest in the very small business segment with a score of 753.

Other findings indicate:

  • Overall customer satisfaction in 2016 averages 741, an improvement of 22 points from 2015.
  • The average monthly amount spent on data service has declined from 2015 in the small/medium business segment (-$147). This is counter to the general rise in dollars spent in the very small and large enterprise business segments (+$9 & +$390, respectively).
  • The top reason businesses chose their current telecom provider is network quality/network speed (35%). The core reasons for switching providers include obtaining better pricing (68%); better/more reliable service performance (28%); and favorable pricing options (24%).
  • The main reason businesses contact customer care is network-related: report an outage, service disruption/disconnected or poor/bad reception (26%). The next-highest contact reason is to inquire about a product or service (14%).

The 2016 U.S. Business Wireline Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 3,324 business customers of data and voice services at very small businesses (companies with between one and 19 employees, with a corporate service plan); small/medium businesses (companies with between 20 and 499 employees); and large enterprise businesses (companies with 500 or more employees) in the United States and includes evaluations of their data and voice service providers. The study was fielded in April and May 2016.