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Cable, Satellite Fail to Impress in Call-Center Survey

About 21% of consumers contacting cable and satellite call centers hang up with their initial problem unresolved, according to a study released Tuesday by CFI Group, a Michigan-based consulting firm.

Of those dissatisfied consumers, 49% are likely to stop doing business with the company that disappointed them, the study asserted.

The report used the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, conducted each year by the University of Michigan, tracking more than 200 companies and their prowess in customer service.

Based on a scale of 1-100, the survey ranked industries that rely on call centers for service, including banking, catalog retail, cellular and PC-support businesses. Cable came in on the lower end of the spectrum of scores for that group with a 68, compared with the high of 80 for catalog retail.

CFI Group program director Sheri Teodoru said she was surprised at the high number of unresolved calls given the industry's focus on first-call resolution.

Another factor that surfaced in the survey: 35% of customers try other contact points first, such as Web sites or a local office, yet still have to call customer service. That demonstrates the need for better information quality at each of those touch-points, she added.

Although the score for telephone customer service is lower than for other service industries, it is higher than the 62 earned by the cable/satellite industry as a whole in terms of satisfaction.

"This shows that representatives are doing a very good job in a not-so-good situation," Teodoru said.

That said, cable/satellite was one of only two industries that failed to gain a score of 80 or higher in any of the traits rated, including courteousness, product knowledge or effectiveness in handling customer issues.

In the survey, cable's telephone customer service outscored only that provided by insurance companies and PC tech support.