Internet service providers' customer experience rankings are abysmal. Can multi-billion-dollar investments in network access technologies and ultra-broadband infrastructure help?
It's big money but not a big gamble; customer ratings can only go up. Customer satisfaction with subscription television and Internet service providers tied for last place among 43 industries tracked by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Residents prefer fiber optic and satellite to cable, the ACSI Telecommunications Report 2017 found.
If there's any positive news in ACSI's annual survey, it's that satisfaction with Internet service remained flat (at 64). So did wireline phone service (at 70). Pay TV, on the other hand, saw satisfaction fall 1.5% (to 64), perhaps because of the likes of Netflix and Hulu.
Most, if not all, consumer measures find dissatisfaction among residential Internet users.
"When broken down, customers rank Internet as the line of service with lowest return on their investment. Customers also say Internet is the line of service with which they are least satisfied," wrote InMoment in its July 2017 report, "Customer Experience in the Telecom Industry," which polled more than 11,000 people.
In part, it's because Internet is so integral to today's communications, said Erich Dietz, vice president at InMoment, during a webinar this week. "Out of all [operator services], this is the line of service that is more like oxygen in the daily life of the consumer," he said. "There's a heightened state of awareness when something goes wrong."
Service providers face an uphill -- and perhaps unfair -- battle. Consumers often relegate their offerings to the same category as electricity, water or gas -- utilities that, generally, either work well or don't work at all, David VanAmburg, managing director of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), told UBB2020. Communications services, already complex, only get more sophisticated as operators add offerings such as smart home and security, he said. But unmanaged expectations do not include providers' technological hurdles, and customers' increasing price-sensitivity damages any potential goodwill providers earn from enhanced offerings, VanAmburg noted.
"The issue becomes twofold: The expectation that households have of these services, which are rather high, and secondly, and in part what is driving user expectations as high as they are, is the kinds of prices households are paying for these kinds of services," he said. "The 'Do I feel like I'm getting what I'm paying for?' is not in line with expectations. My Internet connection, at times, craps out on me. My picture quality isn't 100% of the time perfect. That's where you get a lot of disconnect."
That's where new technologies enter the picture. With Gfast, XGS-PON, DOCSIS 3.1 and NG-PON2, coupled with the industry's focus on automation and predictive analytics, could quality improve and costs come down? We'll explore that in part two of our report on ultra-broadband and customer experience.
The industry organization's major initiatives will address broadband differentiation based on quality of experience, global test labs for services, 5G, multi-access strategies and more, say CEO Robin Mersh and CMO Geoff Burke in an interview with BBWN.
Mike Zeto, GM of AT&T's Smart Cities division, expects metro areas to adopt platforms to manage multi-departmental IoT solutions once internal processes are aligned and more agencies are involved in smart city applications.
Fiber optic cable vendor Prysmian Group is now shipping its FlexRibbon Technology-based, US-sourced and made 6912 fiber MassLink Cable to service providers seeking densification for 5G or solutions for filled ducts.
Consumers are buying millions of IoT devices, from smart thermostats and security systems to intelligent entertainment setups and furniture. Yet many of these devices remain isolated because home users are uncomfortable connecting them to each other – or even their WiFi. After all, their WiFi network was probably designed only to handle a few laptops, a gaming system and a couple of smartphones. Now, demand on the network is surging and even though you're delivering 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps, that doesn't necessarily mean the broadband power is in the right place or reaches every corner of a home.
Even if WiFi coverage is sufficient, typing is not on trend. Voice is far more natural, easier and faster. Using a TV keyboard is archaic when more and more households have access to cloud-based voice services, like Amazon Alexa. This webinar will explore how service providers can create a comfortable, truly smart home for consumers – simultaneously driving up margin and loyalty.
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on Thursday, November 1 at 8 a.m. PT, 11 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. UK as Ronan Kelly, CTO, EMEA & APAC Regions at ADTRAN, explores the five pillars of network integrity -- a topic he discussed during his recent Broadband World Forum keynote. Register now!