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Single Point of Contact Has a Notable Positive Effect on Customer Satisfaction

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Assigning business telephone customers a single point of contact for account services may result in a lift in overall satisfaction with landline voice telephone service providers, according to a J.D. Power and Associates study.

The study measures customer satisfaction with providers of landline voice telephone service for businesses. Providers are ranked in three segments: home-based businesses (companies based in a residential location with one to five employees); small/midsize businesses (companies with two to 499 employees); and large enterprise businesses (companies with 500 or more employees). Five factors are used to measure satisfaction across all three segments: performance and reliability; billing; cost of service; offerings and promotions; and customer service. A sixth factor, sales representatives/account executives, is included for small/midsize businesses and large enterprise businesses.

In all three segments, satisfaction among business customers who have a dedicated single point of contact is higher than among customers without a single point of contact. The disparity is particularly notable among small/midsize business customers and large enterprise business customers, who are more likely to be assigned a single point of contact for their accounts, compared with customers in home-based businesses.

The study finds that business customers with a single point of contact have higher rates of problem resolution than customers who are not provided with a dedicated contact. In all three segments, problem resolution rates average approximately 90 percent among customers with a single point of contact. For customers without a dedicated contact, problem resolution rates average between 74 percent and 83 percent. In addition, assigning a dedicated contact to a business account may also reduce the likelihood of customers to switch providers.

"Given the steep costs of acquiring new customers, providing the single point of contact for business customers is a relatively minimal financial investment that may have sizable rewards in customer tenure and loyalty," said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates.

Optimum Business ranks highest in the small/midsize business segment with a score of 678 on a 1,000-point scale and performs particularly well in four factors: billing; cost of service; sales representatives and account executives; and customer service. AT&T follows Optimum Business in the segment rankings with a score of 654, while Qwest ranks third with 647.

In the home-based business segment, Verizon ranks highest with a score of 645 and performs particularly well in cost of service; offerings and promotions; and performance and reliability. Time Warner Cable (644) and AT&T (635) follow in the segment rankings.

AT&T ranks highest in the large enterprise business segment with a score of 687 and performs particularly well in four factors: performance and reliability; sales representatives/account executives; billing; and cost of service.

The study finds that highly ranked providers have a more committed following across all segments of their business voice customers. More than 43 percent of the customers of these higher-ranked providers consider themselves to be strongly or somewhat committed, compared with 31 percent of customers of providers with average satisfaction scores and nearly 22 percent of customers of providers that perform below the industry average. The financial impact of commitment is that only 2 percent of committed customers say they are definitely or probably likely to switch providers in the next 12 months, compared with 21 percent of customers who say they are neutral or non-committed.

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