Telecommunications Drops in Respect
When it comes to the treatment of online customers, the telecommunications industry has lost some ground to the retail sector, according to The Customer Respect Group's latest evaluation of telecommunications firms. "Fourth Quarter 2005 Online Customer Respect Study" shows the retail sector's Q3 2005 Customer Respect Index (CRI)--an analysis of customers' online experience on a scale of 1 to 10--at a 7.0, outpacing the Q4 2005 composite score of its telecommunications counterparts (6.7). That score dropped slightly from the second-quarter CRI of 6.9. Retail's solid improvement in areas including its ability to respond more promptly and effectively to customer inquiries accounts for its capturing of the top spot, according to Terry Golesworthy, president of The Customer Respect Group.
The study also evaluates the CRI of 44 companies, 11 in cable, 23 in telecommunications, and 10 in wireless/mobile, which factors in several components, including attitude, principles, privacy, responsiveness, simplicity, and transparency. Bell Canada led all contenders with a CRI composite tally of 8.2, followed by CenturyTel with 8.0, Qwest Communications with 7.9, Sprint with 7.8, and Cablevision with 7.7. The remaining top-10 companies are Verizon Wireless (7.6), SBC Communications (7.5), Shaw Communications, and Verizon (both with 7.4), and BT (7.3). When grouped into three industries, Cablevision topped the cable sector, Bell Canada led the way in telecommunications, and Verizon Wireless was at the head of the wireless/mobile pack.
Despite a dip in the combined scores for privacy and transparency from Q2 2005's 7.3 to Q4 2005's 7.0, Verizon pulled a 10 in the transparency category, the sole house to pull a perfect score in any category, while Verizon Wireless topped the privacy index, with a score just a few tenths off from a perfect tally, 9.3. Bell Canada, BT, and Verizon each received the highest mark for attitude, an 8.8. SBC topped the list in simplicity with 8.7, Time Warner Cable in responsiveness with 8.3, and CenturyTel in principles with 8.1.
Although only two firms in the telco industry nabbed ratings of 8.0 or higher, telcos did, however, outperform all companies surveyed in 2004 when measured on self-service proficiency. Seventy-seven percent of telecommunications companies provide excellent or very comprehensive FAQs, compared to the average of all companies surveyed in 2004, 48 percent. Seventy-five percent offer searching in comparison to 68 percent of all companies surveyed in 2004, while 84 percent provide a site map compared to 62 percent all of companies surveyed in 2004.
Strong in self-service functionality, the sector stumbled in areas including email responsiveness. While 68 percent of companies responded to all inquires, only 43 percent of The Customer Respect Group's inquiries were responded to in one day, seven percentage points lower than all companies surveyed in 2004, trailing sectors like the financial industry with 57 percent and retail with 65 percent. Just 49 percent of replies were deemed helpful, which surpasses the global average, but is still significantly behind the retail sector's 74 percent. Golesworthy notes that the percentage of email responses has grown (up from 83 percent to 86 percent), which may imply that companies are faltering due to their attempts of trying to handle more inquiries. "Trust is a critical factor for the online customer, especially in an industry that is so fast moving, with the convergence of technologies and new options available," he said in a written statement. "The increase in the quantity, but drop in the quality, of the responses may serve as an indicator of major restructuring to better communicate with the online customer."
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