With nearly half of all American households dumping traditional landline service and many businesses following suit, customer satisfaction with this service is up in 2016.
With all of that rejection, why? Probably because the dedicated landline users are the most likely to be happy with their service.
The latest report from American Customer Satisfaction Index says satisfaction with landlines is up 1.4 percent, with VoIP calling quickly becoming the “dominant mode of landline-based communication.” A clear pattern: The big cablecos are struggling.
Here you’ll find Vonage, AT&T, Verizon, Windstream, all the big cable companies and more.
So who is making customers happiest? And who will get a coal in their stocking this Christmas? Our gallery takes you from first to worst.
Follow senior online managing editor Craig Galbraith on Twitter.
Congratulations to Vonage, the VoIP provider, which improved 7 percent (five points, to 78 overall). Vonage tied with Bright House Networks for the top spot last year, but stands alone in 2016.
ACSI notes that unlike its competitors, Vonage is an OTT service that does not need to maintain network infrastructure, helping it to direct more resources toward customer service. Nonetheless, No. 1 is No. 1.
Bright House Networks remained the top-ranked cable operator (tied with Cablevision) among fixed-line telephone providers in ACSI’s latest report, despite slipping one point this year — down from 73 to 72. Bright House gets much better rankings in this category than Charter and Time Warner Cable (all three now part of the same company).
Cablevision made a nice run at the leaders, tying Bright House for second place. Cablevision was up 7 percent.
Verizon also gets kudos for its growth in customer satisfaction. ACSI gives Big Red a score of 72, up 6 percent. Verizon went from tied for fifth place last year to a second-place tie in 2016.
AT&T had the second-biggest improvement from last year to this. Now at 70 points, AT&T is only two points out of second place.
CenturyLink was one of the few decliners in satisfaction from one year to the next (70 points down to 68). That meant falling from third place into a tie for sixth.
Cox’s score of 68 remained unchanged from last year, and so does its ranking. Still, the company fared a lot better than many of its cable brethren.
Frontier, which took a major beating in ACSI’s ranking of internet service providers, made up for it here with a 14 percent jump in ACSI score.
The company leaped from last place to eighth; surprisingly, the many complaints lodged against it after its acquisition of Verizon wireline operations in California, Florida and Texas didn’t impact fixed-line telephone service as it did Internet service.
Charter Communications saw the biggest drop year to year, down 6 percent. That meant a fall from fourth place all the way down to ninth in the ACSI rankings. Perhaps Bright House’s good numbers will bring the now-second-largest cable provider up next year.
Windstream still has a ways to go, but the Little Rock, Arkansas-based telco saw a nice spike this year, going from 61 points to 65. While that’s still seven points below the average mark, the gap was 15 a year ago.
With its number (64) remaining unchanged, Comcast dropped a couple of spots into a tie for last place.
Thanks to solid improvement by Frontier and Windstream, a slight uptick for Time Warner Cable wasn’t enough to keep it out of a last-place tie with Comcast.
So where, specifically, are these companies succeeding and failing?
Customers tell ACSI that service interruptions are as frequent as they were a year ago, but reliability and call quality have both improved. Most other aspects of the landline customer experience have gotten better, the survey revealed.
Satisfaction with company websites is up, while call-center satisfaction (though still low), is up as well.
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