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
- 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.