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When it comes to customer service, there are some companies, like Chick-fil-A or Trader Joe’s, that go above and beyond and it shows in their American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) scores, the country’s only national cross-industry measure of consumer approval.
Others, like traditional TV and internet service providers (ISPs), are not known for their customer satisfaction. In fact, both industries tied at the bottom of all ACSI rankings this year across 10 economic sectors and 46 key industries.
In 2021, five of the top 11 national providers increased their overall ACSI scores this year, while four saw their scores go down and two stayed the same.
Top 5 ISPs based on customer satisfaction
Internet service provider customer satisfaction rankings for 2021
ISPs overall received a score of 65 out of 100 as the industry standard benchmark for 2021 — the same score as 2020. Leading the pack were AT&T and Verizon Fios service, with both earning a 71/100. AT&T moved up to nab that spot, while Verizon’s score was lower than last year. AT&T saw the greatest improvement in their customer satisfaction rating, jumping from 68/100 in 2020 to a 71/100 in 2021, a 4.4% increase.
How are internet service providers ranked?
The ACSI has been collecting data on ISPs since 2013 using more than 30 data points to evaluate the industry. Some of these key metrics include “customer expectations, customer perceptions about the value and quality of their actual experiences, customer complaints and customer retention.”
The ACSI conducts interviews annually with hundreds of customers on recent experiences with their internet service providers and specifically asks for their input on a set of critical elements that include:
- Reliable speed and service
- Data transfer speed
- Peak-hour performance
- Video streaming
- Variety of plans
- Email, data storage and internet security
- Understanding the bill
- Store/service center staff courtesy and helpfulness
- Store/service center transaction speed
- Quality of mobile app
- Reliability of mobile app
- Call center
Trends among internet service providers’ customer satisfaction
Using data going back to 2013, we can start to see some trends among ISPs. Since that time, the industry-standard benchmark has declined from 65 out of 100 in 2013 to a low of 62 in 2019. 2020 marked the first time in seven years that the overall benchmark has returned to its 2013 standard, which it remained at in 2021.
2021 was a mixed bag for internet service providers. Customers were more satisfied with service outages, performance and the variety of plans available in 2021, but less happy with mobile apps, websites and customer service.
The ACSI report also found that customers generally have a better experience if they buy their own modem and router instead of renting them from their ISP. Third-party equipment was rated as faster, more reliable and much more affordable than ISP-provided equipment.
The future of customer satisfaction for internet service providers
While most providers made marginal improvements year-over-year, the industry as a whole has been struggling to improve — let alone even maintain — their customer satisfaction scores.
Mobile apps and websites appear to be helping the industry, but it’s clear that internet service providers need to make investments in customer satisfaction, especially in their call centers, and work on giving customers more choice in internet plan options.
Written by:Lisa Iscrupe
Writer, Broadband & Data Content
Lisa uses years of experience in sales and customer service for internet-TV providers to inform her writing on broadband. Her work has been referenced by CNN and other national sources. In Lisa’s Words: Ever… Read more
Edited by:Trey Paul
Editor, Head of Content
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