O2 has topped the list of fixed and mobile broadband internet service providers (ISPs) in the UK for customer satisfaction, according to a recent report by JD Power and Associates.
The marketing firm conducted two customer satisfaction studies based on five factors that drive overall satisfaction with the provision of mobile and fixed broadband: performance and reliability; billing; cost; customer service/technical support; and offerings/promotions.
O2 took the top spot on both lists, scoring 767 and 712 out of a possible 1,000 for its fixed and mobile broadband services respectively.
Sky took second place in the fixed broadband rankings with an overall score of 706, followed by Virgin Media with 672. T-Mobile took second spot in the mobile broadband rankings with a score of 683, and Vodafone ranked third with 655.
The fixed broadband study revealed that the average number of service disruptions reported by customers during 2008 declined to 2.8, down from 5.9 in 2007. However, 62 per cent of customers reported a service disruption in the previous 12 months, and 26 per cent attributed the outage to a local exchange problem or network contention due to heavy internet traffic.
"Among customers, the proportion of complaints compared with general inquiries declined to 40 per cent in 2008 from 52 per cent in 2007, suggesting that ISPs have been working hard to improve their infrastructure," said Stuart Crawford-Browne, senior manager of service industries research at JD Power and Associates.
"While it appears that service levels for fixed broadband are improving, the differences in satisfaction between the leading ISPs and other competitors indicate that some providers need to do more to retain their customers, who are hunting for value and quality service in tough economic times."
The research also reported that satisfaction with mobile broadband ISPs tended to be lower than with fixed broadband ISPs. Mobile broadband customers reported an average of 3.6 service disruptions over 2008, often due to poor reception and a busy network.
"The mobile broadband market is experiencing swift growth as a complementary service to fixed broadband, with 71 per cent of mobile broadband customers also having fixed broadband services," said Crawford-Browne.
"However, with the rapid evolution of the mobile broadband segment, ISPs need to keep improving their offerings and service to stay competitive."
Bundling various services together is also a popular option, as it usually provides simpler account management and better deals. While eight out of 10 customers bundle fixed broadband with other services, only 62 per cent of mobile broadband customers do the same with their mobile phone network and ISP.
Similarly, incentives to sign up to a particular service are quite common, with 38 per cent of fixed line customers receiving a discounted monthly price or the inclusion of a wireless router as part of the deal, and 41 per cent of mobile broadband contract holders receiving a monthly discount or even a laptop computer.
Loyalty to a particular provider was reasonably strong, and only 20 per cent of fixed broadband customers and 25 per cent of mobile broadband customers indicated that they 'definitely will' or 'probably will' switch provider in the next 12 months.
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