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JD Power: Online Self-Help Tops Phone in Telecom Customer Satisfaction

Just in time for social distancing and millions sheltering at home, a new study finds that telecom customers are happier when they can use online tools to resolve service issues themselves that having to call them in. 

That is according to J.D. Power's 2020 U.S. Telecom In-Home Service Technician Study, which finds that customers' overall satisfaction with their communications provider is "significantly higher" when they use web sites, mobile apps or social media channels to troubleshoot than when they call the provider. 

Given how many will be homebound during the coronavirus pandemic, that finding is a keyone, said JD Power. 

But when customers do need a house call, Dish got the highest in-hom technician satisfaction score for the third year in a row, followed by Verizon and DirecTV/AT&T (see chart). 

“As consumers continue to grow more adept at working with technology, there is a built-in expectation—particularly among younger people—that many tech issues can be fixed easily with a visit to a website or even a tweet to a social media account,” said Ian Greenblatt, managing director at J.D. Power, of the new findings.  

Among the other big takeaways: 

1. A majority of customers troubleshoot on their own, but if they fail before having to call a technician they are less satisfied than those who just scheduled a call without first trying to do it themselves. 

2. The phone is "rapidly waning" as the primary means of getting tech help. 

3. Not surprisingly, for those who do use the phone, being put on hold is the is a big satisfaction turn-off. 

The study was conducted December 2019-January 2020, with 4,456 eligible responses, meaning they had to have had an in-home telecom service technician visit in the past six months. 

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.