Summary:

Many of us focus on the big problems telecom companies are facing – flight of customers to wireless services, switching to local competitors or simply those pesky financial issues like billions upon billions in debt. However, there is one little issue which gets overlooked – customer […]

Many of us focus on the big problems telecom companies are facing – flight of customers to wireless services, switching to local competitors or simply those pesky financial issues like billions upon billions in debt. However, there is one little issue which gets overlooked – customer satisfaction. Now if we stopped for a minute and thought why are these people switching from the Bells or long distance companies? Answer will be increasing dissatisfaction for the services being sold by the large phone companies.

However by reversing this trend, phone companies can simply take back the lost market share, and win back customers. This is a new religion the Bells have to learn. Better bundles ($100 for DSL, local and long distance from SBC made me give up Vonage in a flash!), longer hours when customers can call in to chat with their local reps and of course lower prices are doing the trick, at least marginally.

A recent report by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index shows that telecom companies once amongst the worst offenders are beginning to focus on customer service. Here are some excerpts from that report.

bq. Even though the industry score of 72 remains below the national ACSI, several telecommunications firms have fairly high levels of customer satisfaction: BellSouth and Verizon at 74, AT&T at 76, and Sprint at 73.

The report particularly highlights AT&T as one of the most improved companies. For instance the company has affectively used the Internet, call centers and web-technologies to come-up with a better customer service mousetrap.

bq. Threatened by deflationary pressures, AT&T has managed to make customer service more effective via additional web sites and from “virtual representatives” at its call centers. The net effect has been a reduction in labor costs, better customer service, and improved profits.

Now that should explain why AT&T is winning a disproportionately large part of the UNE-P customers who are leaving SBC, Verizon and BellSouth. These three need to improve their customer service to stem the losses. Sometimes it is just that elementary.

Click here to read the ACSI report

By Om Malik

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