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Business Wireline: The Best & Worst Companies for Customer Satisfaction

AT&T and Verizon are leading the pack in business wireline satisfaction, according to J.D. Power‘s latest study.

The research firm unveiled its latest Business Wireline Satisfaction study, which shows AT&T earning major praise from large enterprises.

Although its chief rival won the enterprise and SMB categories, Verizon absolutely dominated the very small business segment. Cox scored second for very small businesses the previous year, but fell way down to sixth in 2020

AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Comcast, Cox, Spectrum and Frontier are featured in the business wireline study.

J.D. Power managing director Ian Greenblatt praised service providers for weathering the COVID-19 storm. Satisfaction scores improved from 2019 across all business segments despite a hard-hit economy.

Greenblatt, Ian_J.D. Power

J.D. Power’s Ian Greenblatt

“Business wireline providers have shown tremendous resiliency by maintaining exceptional customer service despite myriad unanticipated roadblocks presenting themselves as they moved entire call centers to remote work,” Greenblatt said.

Keep up with these resources for supporting partners and customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s also worth noting that J.D. Power conducted the survey during April and May 2019 — right as business were sending employees home.

“With planned redundancies and excellent and effective service, providers quickly made the seamless transition to ‘safer at home’ without seeing a dip in satisfaction — an impressive feat in these extraordinary times,” he said.

A Growing Discrepancy

One troubling trend to note, however, is that the satisfaction gap between large enterprises and very small businesses increased again. In other words, large enterprise customers reported an average satisfaction of 863 and very small business customers reported an average satisfaction of 751. That’s a 112-point gap, which increased from 97 last year.

“Smaller business customers may be less profitable, but if wireline companies can address the opportunities in very small business customer service, they will see an increase in satisfaction and, ultimately, retention,” Greenblatt said last year.

Scroll through the 12 slides below to see how J.D. Power conducted the study. You’ll also want to find out how the seven service providers fared.

Women in the Channel

Methodology

J.D. Power queried 3,652 businesses that buy data and voice services from seven wireline providers. The respondents scored their experiences, which include performance, cost, communications, personal interactions with the provider, billing and customer service.

J.D. Power divided the survey into three segments: large enterprises, small and medium-size businesses, and very small businesses.
Women in the Channel

Very Small Business

It's not remotely close in the first demographic. Verizon barely bested Cox by six points last year but beat its closest competitor by 37 points this time around. Cox not only slipped from second place, but saw its score fall. Comcast leapfrogged Cox for a strong second-place finish.

Respondents in the VSB category employ 1-19 people.
Women in the Channel

SMB

AT&T and Verizon stood within a point of each other in 2019, but Ma Bell opened up a 23-point lead in 2020.

It's a rising tide in the small and medium-size business category, as every single vendor improved its score over last year. As a result, the average SMB satisfaction score leaped from 797 to 835. 

Respondents in the SMB category employ 20-499 people.
Women in the Channel

Enterprise

AT&T expanded its lead in another category: companies with 500 or more employees. It turned an 11-point gap over Verizon into 24 points. The rankings remain the same except for the two bottom places, which Comcast and Spectrum flipped.
Women in the Channel

7-Year Outlook

We charted J.D. Power's large enterprise data for the last seven years. The results show an ongoing rise in customer satisfaction. All carriers registered a personal best satisfaction score in 2020.

Women in the Channel

Frontier

  • Very Small Business: 7th
  • SMB: N/A
  • Large Enterprise: N/A
The Connecticut-based company grew its VSB score from 664 to 681. Frontier is going through chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Cox Business

Cox Business

  • Very Small Business: 5th
  • SMB: 6th
  • Large Enterprise: N/A
The service provider slightly improved its SMB score. However, it failed to score well in the VSB category, which it has won multiple times over the years.

Cox recently signed a master agent agreement with TBI.
Cox Business

Spectrum Business

  • Very Small Business: 4th
  • SMB: 4th
  • Large Enterprise: 5th
Spectrum shined in the SMB category, where it jumped from 762 satisfaction points to 798. The company remains locked in close competition with Comcast. The two have had similar scores over the years.
Cox Business

Comcast Business

  • Very Small Business: 2nd
  • SMB: 5th
  • Large Enterprise: 4th
Comcast leapfrogged Cox in the VSB category while maintaining its edge over AT&T. It also made a strong 36-point jump in the SMB category. 

The company and its partners made several free tools available to customers back in April. Comcast also launched an enterprise-grade residential connectivity package for businesses last month.
Cox Business

CenturyLink

  • Very Small Business: 6th
  • SMB: 3rd
  • Large Enterprise: 3rd
CenturyLink scored perhaps the biggest improvement of all, adding 40 points in the SMB category. It also moved from 4th to 3rd in that same category.

The company discussed coronavirus implications in a late March SEC filing.
Cox Business

Verizon

  • Very Small Business: 1st
  • SMB: 2nd
  • Large Enterprise: 2nd
Verizon lost its SMB lead to AT&T. However, it utterly dominated the VSB segment with a score of 794. No service provider has ever surpassed a satisfaction level of 800 in that segment.

The company is adding Google Cloud Contact Center AI capabilities to improve customer service.
Cox Business

AT&T

  • Very Small Business: 3rd
  • SMB: 1st
  • Large Enterprise: 1st
Despite falling in the VSB rankings, AT&T garnered impressive wins in the two larger segments. Its large enterprise score of 878 is the highest we've ever seen.

In other news, the company recently added an SD-WAN managed service.

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