RealTime IT News

Study: MSN Has Happiest Customers

A survey of 5,234 Internet households released Wednesday from J.D. Power and Associates gave the Microsoft Network top marks in customer satisfaction among the largest national Internet service providers.

Rounding out the top five in J.D. Power's 1998 Internet Customer Satisfaction Study were AT&T WorldNet, Prodigy, Compuserve and America Online. Together, the providers serve about 52 percent of all Internet/online customers, with the rest of the market served by a fragmented group of more than 5,000 providers.

Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed said reliable access was the key factor in determining their overall customer satisfaction. Other factors included connection quality, 24 percent; billing and value, 18 percent; additional service offerings and discounts, 16 percent; and image and technical support, 14 percent.

"Users are clearly indicating that ease of accessing the Internet is of paramount importance to them," said Peter Dresch, director of telecommunications market analysis at J.D. Power and Associates. "Providers must continually consider emerging modes of service delivery that enrich and strengthen the quality of their networks to keep up with consumer demands and expectations."

Among other findings in the report:

  • 18 percent of Internet consumers have switched their ISP and 12 percent of consumers said they are either thinking of switching or definitely plan to switch ISPs within the year.
  • 20 percent of U.S. households have access to the Internet or online services, representing only half of households with personal computers.
  • 30 percent of those in Internet households purchase products and services over the Internet. Forty-five percent of Prodigy consumers shop on the Internet, the highest of all five national providers.
  • More than 50 percent of users feel somewhat uncomfortable using credit cards to make purchases over the Internet.
  • Consumers in Internet households are generally younger. They are also more likely to operate a home-based business, tend to telecommute more and have higher household incomes.

"In order to expand the number of consumers shopping over the Internet, the industry must assure that security and privacy issues are technically resolved," Dresch said. "This must be followed by effective and widespread communication to end users."

"The profile of Internet users is typical of technophiles who are quick to adapt new technologies and services. The challenge for the ISPs is to reduce the churn in the marketplace and tailor their services to attract more mainstream users," said Dresch.