01:22 PM

Consumer Satisfaction With IT Services Rises

Increased satisfaction with cable TV, cell phones, and landlines pushed the American Customer Satisfaction Index up to 75.9.

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After years of struggling with the vagaries of high tech, Americans finally appear to have decided they are satisfied with the offerings, particularly telecommunications, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index found consumers are increasingly satisfied with improvements in their service for cable TV, cell phones, and landlines. The new survey results, which were based on polls of more than 10,000 U.S. households, placed the national ACSI satisfaction index at 75.9 on a scale of 100.

"There have been far more ACSI gainers than losers," said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder. "Customer service has improved and buyer value for money is rising. The progress in customer satisfaction is also reflected in growing consumer demand and spending -- a key for the economic recovery to be sustainable."

Although the satisfaction index remained stable at 75.9, the cable TV-cell phone-landline sector rose, while growing dissatisfaction in hospitals tended to damper the overall index.

In the cell phone category, Sprint Nextel showed the highest jump, even as it continues to lose customers. It scored seven-point increases both last year and this year, giving its 70-point score a slightly higher rating than AT&T, which had 69. Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA each scored 73.

ACSI measured fiber TV for the first time and both Verizon FiOS and AT&T's U-verse reported scores in the low 70s. The general category of cable and satellite TV rose 5% to 66 as nearly all companies in the field reported improvements. However, satellite TV customers were generally more satisfied with their service than cable customers.

"Having enjoyed near-monopoly status in most areas for many years, cable companies had little incentive to provide quality services at a good price," said Fornell. "Now that satellite and fiber-optic TV providers have created a competitive challenge to cable, the cable companies have started to step up customer service and realize some gains in customer satisfaction, but they still remain far behind both satellite and fiber-optics."

Both fixed-line and wireless dialing showed large improvements, led by AT&T. In another area, Microsoft surged in the PC software category, based largely on the popularity of its Windows 7 upgrade.

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