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Verizon Tops AT&T, Cox in Business Wireline Satisfaction

2019 award winners

Verizon just bested carrier rival AT&T in two out of three business customer satisfaction rankings.

J.D. Power this week unveiled its 2019 Business Wireline Satisfaction Study results, in which 3,424 companies rated how well their service providers support them. The customer respondents contacted their carrier’s customer care departments at some point in the last three months. The customers evaluated six factors, including billing, cost and reliability. J.D. Power conducted its survey in April and May.

The study measured satisfaction ratings for Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast, Spectrum Enterprise, Cox and Frontier.

J.D. Power concluded that the “satisfaction gap” between large enterprises and very small businesses grew for a third consecutive year. The carriers on average earned a satisfaction score of 838 from their largest customers and 735 from their smallest. That’ a 97-point gap for those counting at home.

“Very small business customers who have had issues with their business lines view their provider as less trustworthy and reliable, but if you look at the large enterprise segment, that is not the case,” J.D. Power managing director Ian Greenblatt said. “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.”

We covered the results below, where you can see how the seven vendors performed compared to previous years and in relation to their competitors.

We offered up results from the 2018 Business Wireline Satisfaction Study if you’d like to reminisce.

Frontier
  • Large Enterprise: N/A
  • SMB: N/A
  • Very Small: 6th
Frontier Communications finished sixth the previous year, when it first appeared in the study. The Connecticut-based company headed up the rear this time, but it improved by 24 points to almost leapfrog CenturyLink in the very small business customer category.

The telco signed with master agent PlanetOne Communications in April.
Comcast
  • Large Enterprise: 5th
  • SMB: 6th
  • Very Small: 3rd
Comcast Business improved 23 points and moved up a spot in the very small business category, but it didn't move the needle much in the two larger segments. 

The cableco does seem to be holding its own in the channel, as master agent TBI recently handed it two partner awards. Partners also seem to like the vendor's ActiveCore SDN platform.
Spectrum
  • Large Enterprise: 4th
  • SMB: 5th
  • Very Small: 5th
Spectrum Enterprise didn't change much for the better or worse in the eyes of business customers. The company moved past CenturyLink for small and medium business while dropping behind it for very small businesses. 

Spectrum recently finished third in the latest Vertical Systems leaderboard for fiber-lit buildings in the U.S.
CenturyLink
  • Large Enterprise: 3rd
  • SMB: 4th
  • Very Small: 6th
The Louisiana-based company made modest gains with SMB and enterprise customers over their 2018 scores; however, CenturyLink dropped 43 points with very small businesses, nearly finishing last behind Frontier.

CenturyLink leadership is weighing the possibility of spinning off its consumer unit.
Cox
  • Large Enterprise: N/A
  • SMB: 3rd
  • Very Small: 2nd

Atlanta-based Cox still still doesn't qualify for the enterprise category, but it's gaining on Verizon and AT&T in the other two. In fact, Cox overtook AT&T in the very small business category and darn near caught Verizon.

Craig Leddy wrote last month about how Cox Business is becoming a "leading service provider in stadiums, arenas and convention halls." The company has also hired at least four new personnel to serve their indirect channel partners this year.

AT&T
  • Large Enterprise: 1st
  • SMB: 2nd
  • Very Small: 3rd
Ma Bell retained its lead with enterprise customers and improved its SMB score, but its successes came with a setback. AT&T plummeted in the very small business category, dropping 27 points and falling below the average score.

The company has announced several initiatives in 2019 to expand and upgrade its technology portfolio, partnering with Microsoft, HPE and Box for respective advances in IoT, 5G and security. AT&T gave its three partner programs several new services and tools.
Verizon
  • Large Enterprise: 2nd
  • SMB: 1st
  • Very Small: 1st
Verizon won two out of three segments. It was the company's most dominant performance since 2017, when it swept all three.

The New Jersey-based corporation has developed a credible security organization in recent years and has countered bitter rival AT&T with announcements around IoT and 5G in 2019.
Large Enterprises

AT&T maintained its lead, but the gap is narrowing. Verizon trailed by 29 points in 2018 but only trailed by 11 this time around. CenturyLink, Spectrum Enterprise and Comcast remain close together as they battle for third place.

The large enterprise category is for companies with 500 or more employees.
Small and Medium-Size Businesses (SMBs)

Verizon squeaked out first place over AT&T as the latter gained ground over 2018.

The average SMB satisfaction score ticked up slightly from 791 to 797. Cox is close to matching the score of 793 it tallied in 2016. CenturyLink rallied to move past Spectrum and Comcast.

The survey respondents in this category have between 20 and 499 employees.
Very Small Businesses

AT&T dropped 27 points after leading this category in 2018. Verizon took the lead, followed by Cox. 

These vendors have generally improved their game with very small businesses, which contain less than 20 employees. The segment average was 660 in 2013 and is now 735.

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