Wednesday, May 4, 2016

U.S. Consumers are Plain Unhappy with Most Communications, Entertainment Services

U.S. consumer satisfaction with fixed network telephone services has been falling since 1994.

Satisfaction with Internet access providers has fallen since recordkeeping began in 2013, not to mention that ISPs rank dead last for consumer satisfaction among all industries tracked by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.

Subscription TV services are in a tie for last place among all industries tracked by ACSI.

Satisfaction with mobile services generally had grown until about 2013, when satisfaction hit a plateau before dropping in 2015.

It always has been hard to explain precisely why subscription entertainment or communications services generally have scored so poorly in the customer satisfaction area.

Two contradictory arguments might be made. Perhaps service providers need to invest far more in “satisfaction-driving” measures.

The opposite might also be argued: that for whatever reason, virtually nothing service providers have done, or accomplished, will boost satisfaction even to cross-industry norms.

Recent gains by U.S. airlines, also historically an industry at the bottom of satisfaction ratings, suggests that product enhancements matter, and can raise scores. The problem for ISPs, telcos, cable TV companies and satellite TV provides might be that only rebalancing the value relationship will really help.

Many believe legacy subscription TV provides too little value, in relationship to price. That might also be the case for communication services.

But that also illustrates a key dilemma. Seeking to position themselves higher on the value scale, access providers still seem to be viewed as products where perhaps two dimensions of experience are crucial: speed and price.

It will be hard to break out of a “commodity-like” status while that remains the case.

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