ATLANTIC-ACM’s Business Connectivity Report Card is a study of enterprise customer satisfaction with telecom service providers and is part of our Report Card series of annual studies. Survey respondents generated well over 7,000 total carrier ratings in 2012 and 2013, providing us with a strong bead on the pulse of many facets of the retail telecom market, ranging from product penetration to customer satisfaction.
To better understand the enterprise customer view of providers’ operations, the Business Connectivity survey contains rating questions in which the respondent rates his/her provider’s different operations categories on a scale from 1 (terrible) to 10 (superior). An interesting trend has surfaced over the past year in these ratings: From 2012 to 2013, low and midrange ratings (1-7) became more popular, while the three highest ratings all became less popular responses. This relationship is quite strong, as the correlation between ratings’ share growth and the rating number is -0.92. Looking at the lowest three ratings (1, 2, 3) reveals that their share of all ratings increased from 7.5 percent in 2012 to 9.9 percent in 2013 — a 33% increase, while the three highest ratings’ collective share decreased 8.9 percent over the same time span. Individual operations categories all show this same pattern to differing degrees, with the lowest ratings increasing share and the highest ratings moving in the opposite direction. Low ratings for the categories: Customer Service: Technical Skills and Network Performance grew share particularly quickly – by more than 48 percent from 2012 to 2013.
Breaking the respondents into spend and size groupings reveals that smaller (fewer than 1,000 employees) and lower-spend (less than $50,000 of telecom spend per month) respondents are rating providers more critically, with ratings of 1, 2, or 3 from this group of respondents increasing share by more than 40 percent. Smaller and lower-spend companies are also becoming better represented within the pool of survey respondents, with smaller companies accounting for 74.4 percent of the respondent base in 2012 and 80.1 percent in 2013, and lower-spend companies representing 70.7 percent in 2012 and 76.8 percent in 2013.
Although this influx of smaller, lower-spend, and, as discovered, more critical, respondents offers some explanation as to why ratings of operations categories are dropping, there remains an increasing rate of very low ratings within each and every respondent group (small to large, low-spend to high-spend). To battle falling ratings, we expect telecom carriers to allocate more resources toward pleasing their growing number of smaller customers even as the trend in rising criticism may continue as a reflection of both increased expectations of small- and medium-size business customers (SMBs) as well as a diversifying market wherein providers are finding it difficult to distance themselves from the competition-a topic discussed in last month’s blog “A Rift in Competition: Wholesale vs. Retail Operations.”
This analysis originally appear in B/OSS.