Customer service vexes traditional cable as competing technologies crowd in

Customer service quality--the bane of cable operators everywhere, it seems--has Comcast a bit vexed as it works to improve its reputation in that department. A recent report from the American Customer Service Index puts the operator near or at the bottom of its rankings for video and voice services.

The ACSI study was released in mid-May. It measures customer satisfaction in 10 economic sectors, 44 industries and more than 200 companies and government agencies, then compiles the results into scores ranging from zero to 100.

Comcast ranked sixth out of eight providers on customer service for subscription television, scoring a 61. This was way behind the leader in the category, Verizon Communications, which received a 73. AT&T and Dish Network were close behind, with 72 and 71, respectively. Comcast ranked behind even "All Others" (smaller operators grouped together), which scored a 70.

In fixed-line voice service, Comcast ranked dead last among six operators. Curiously, "All Others" ruled the roost in this ranking at 78 points, followed by AT&T, Cox Communications, and Verizon.

If there's a silver lining to the results, it is that Comcast's scores are actually up from last year. Not too far up--last year it scored 59 in subscription TV service and 67 in voice service--but the company says they are working on the problem, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. And the overall score for customer satisfaction among cable TV subscribers is 66, its highest level in 10 years.

"Having enjoyed near-monopoly status in most areas for many years, cable companies had little incentive to provide quality services at a good price," said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI, in a news release. "Now that satellite and fiber-optic TV providers have created a competitive challenge to cable, the cable companies have started to step up customer service and realize some gains in customer satisfaction, but they still remain far behind both satellite and fiber-optics."

The ACSI ranking isn't the only indicator of trouble out there. An April study by ChangeWave Research found that only 14 percent of cable customers were "very satisfied" with their service provider.

For more:
- the Philadelphia Business Journal has this story
- see the release

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