Consumers Won't Cut Media Spending

Despite the darkening economic forecast—and the official word last week that the United States is indeed in a recession—U.S. consumers have no plans to reduce spending on Internet, wireless, cable and satellite services. That's according to a new study from Amdocs, a customer experience consultancy.

According to Amdocs' second annual Experience Matters Index, 66% of U.S. consumers do not plan to cut service-related costs and a majority (67%) would pay more for a better customer experience. That may be good news for cable providers, which have worked to overcome their dismal customer service image encapsulated by the Comcast worker who fell asleep on a customer's couch and became a YouTube sensation.

"We were pleasantly surprised by some of the findings," says Anthony Piniella, director of corporate communications for Amdocs. "Ultimately, what it's really saying is that customers are willing to pay for value. If there's a perceived value, even in difficult times, they're willing to pay for it."

The survey, which polled 2,003 consumers of wireless, cable and satellite services in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, also found that more consumers report they have had a "very good" customer experience and would "definitely" recommend their service providers. That's up 8% compared to Amdocs' first EMI study, released last February. Amdocs' clients include Comcast, Dish Network and AT&T (IPTV, wireless and wireline).

Taking the long view, what the Amdocs survey spells out is that service providers need to continue to improve customer experience, be it service, content or user interface, in order to differentiate themselves. Today's consumer is technologically empowered with more choices than ever.

"Consumers' access to information is critical," Piniella says. "In an economy where every day in the news you're hearing, 'Tighten your budget and don't spend money on lattes,' these services are no longer luxuries. They're requirements."