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Best Internet Service Providers by Net Promoter Score®

by Cvetilena Gocheva

Currently Trending

Financial Services NPS® Benchmarks

by Cvetilena Gocheva

In continuing with our “Most Recommended” series, we ranked five, nationally found Internet Service Providers (ISP), based on their Net Promoter Score®. There isn’t a perfect geographic overlap with all of them, but these five are found most everywhere in the United States, and therefore offer a decent overview of what companies are out there, and how customers feel about them. Can’t find the Net Promoter Score of your own provider here? Check out our Internet Service Provider industry list, and look for their NPS there. And if you work for an ISP, go ahead and add your score! In the meantime, check out the best ISPs by NPS below.

Altice/Cablevision Optimum Online - Net Promoter Score = +30

The highest score on our list is Cablevision, which was acquired by the European company Altice in 2016 for $17.7 billion when it was the fourth largest cable provider in the United States. As part of the acquisition, Altice inherited Cablevision’s higher than average Net Promoter Score for the ISP industry.

Altice expanded Cablevision’s reach to 21 states, and is currently working to put all of its acquisitions under one, unified brand, turning Cablevision and Suddenlink into Altice USA.

Altice does not yet have its own Net Promoter Score public, but the company is doing incredibly well. Its revenue increased to $2.33 billion in the first quarter of 2018, and its customer base continues to grow internationally. Will this growth be sustained? Reporting on their customer satisfaction would certainly let us know.

Suddenlink was also very transparent with their Net Promoter Score before its acquisition by Altice, so it’s possible Altice is surveying its customers, and will release their Net Promoter Score once the fully branded Altice USA is out in the second quarter of 2018. Until then, we can assume Altice is doing as well as Cablevision was, as it kept most of Cablevision’s staff on.

AT&T - Net Promoter Score = + 15

AT&T has a long history of absorption and acquisition since its reformation from Southern Bell Corporation in 2005—such as its 2015 purchase of DirecTV for $48.5 billion. Its purchase of Cricket Wireless in 2014 made Cricket a subsidiary of the company, which followed the usual pattern of bringing a competitor into the fold. As such, AT&T was able to flourish while other companies get to keep their name and branding. This is very handy for AT&T, given their NPS versus others.

Cricket, before the acquisition, had a Net Promoter Score of 34. That’s more than double AT&T’s own score, so perhaps part of the hope in obtaining Cricket was to take some pointers. As the second company in our list to acquire another business with a higher Net Promoter Score, the question becomes: Are more companies taking Net Promoter Score into consideration when it comes to mergers and acquisition? Many companies are providing Net Promoter Scores in their annual reports to the board of directors and quarterly earnings reports. In his article, “The Venture Capital Net Promoter Score,” author Eric Tobias notates how important Net Promoter Score has become in determining the health and performance of a company, especially in the eyes of VCs.  

However, this isn’t to say AT&T isn’t doing all it can to improve its own Net Promoter Score outside of Cricket. The company developed an “outer loop” communication system, which is a system that communicates a customer problem up the chain of command, then tells everyone on the chain exactly what’s being done to address the issue, and when it’s resolved. The goal is total transparency within the company, and with the customer, which improves the customer service experience, and therefore helps with NPS. AT&T is definitely keeping up this method of communication, and that consideration should continue to help them along. After all, its NPS in 2015 was 11, so there’s already a 4 point improvement. Part of this improvement could be attributed to AT&T putting customer satisfaction at the center of their core business strategies—the company includes the average customer churn rate in their quarterly earnings report next to customer acquisitions numbers.

In addition, AT&T is also transparent on their initiative to improve the customer experience. They have provided over 6.1 million hours of training to their customer service representatives in 2016 alone, while also using relationship surveys to continually gauge customer satisfaction through a number of different communication channels.

Verizon (FiOS) - Net Promoter Score =  +7

Verizon has been offering its Fiber Optics System (otherwise known as FiOS) since 2005, having an especially large expansion in 2010. In a 2013 Consumer Reports survey, the company had the most customers that would renew their “triple play” bundle (a set price for cable, phone, and internet service), and their TV service had an NPS of 32. Clearly, in the last five years, Verizon has experienced a bit of a downturn in customer satisfaction. But has it? The complicated reality is, Verizon was, for the 12th year in a row, a Reader’s Choice Award winner from PC Mag’s annual competition for Best ISP in 2017. Why isn’t the NPS reflecting that?

Again, we have to face the reality that +7 is an acceptable score amongst ISPs. Mediacom, another ISP giant, has an NPS of -22. But one of the biggest things to consider is what exactly is it that NPS is measuring. PC Mag’s Reader’s Choice has a similar scale to the NPS survey—it asks participants to judge an ISP on a scale of 0 to 10—but that’s about where the similarities end. 

The PC Mag question was about overall satisfaction with the ISP. NPS asks whether or not you would recommend a particular company to a friend. Asking a different question, therefore gets a different result. The calculations on the two questions are also different. PC Mag takes an average of all scores, and puts them together.

To again illustrate the difference, Mediacom users gave the service a 5.8 in the PC Mag survey; fairly different from the -22 NPS. The point is that it’s important to understand how slight variations in the Net Promoter Score survey can affect results.

Charter Communications/Spectrum - Net Promoter Score = -8

Charter Communications, known commercially as Spectrum, is the second largest cable operator in the United States, serving 26 million customers in 41 states. The company reached these levels when it bought Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016, making it the third largest pay TV service in the US (behind AT&T and Comcast). With such a large reach, you’d hope for more happy customers, but sadly, quite a number of Charter customers would not recommend the ISP to a friend.

Much of Charter Communications woes may have to do with public trust. Before the data sharing issues that rocked Facebook and the account fraud scandals that rocked Wells Fargo, Charter Communications also fell into their own trouble. In 2016, Charter and their subsidiary Time Warner were found to be overcharging their customers around $7.2 million per year for equipment and services. What was truly unsettling to customers was finding out that Charter and Time Warner were only issuing refunds if the customer reached out to them.

While Charter Communications has since put in place systems that will make this overcharging impossible, winning customers' trust is still something the brand needs to work on. To help encourage more transparency and trust, Charter Communications is making strides to improve their closed loop channels with customers. According to their “Customer First” policy page, Charter is trying to get better at reaching out to their customers:

“We schedule one-hour appointment windows when our customers need at-home support, at times that work for them, and one-third of our service windows are scheduled for evenings and weekends. We’ve heard from our customers about how they want to reach us, so we’re also continuing to expand avenues for customer engagement, including on our websites, forums, apps, and devices—as well as the traditional telephonic and in-person channels.”

Comcast/Xfinity - Net Promoter Score =  -9

Comcast is the largest broadcasting and cable company in the world by revenue through its Xfinity brand, and operates in 40 states. Comcast has had a particularly rough time with customer service and customer satisfaction, as Americans increasingly turn against large cable companies, and with a recent consumer data leak, Comcast is truly working to even keep their NPS as high as it is.

However, the company is very much aware of its bad reputation with consumers, and is taking a huge step to turn that around. Starting in 2015, Comcast spread an invested $300 million to grow it’s customer experience team, hiring more than 5,000 new representatives, and will soon boast the largest NPS deployment in the world.

Keep checking back for more of our recommended series—we already have articles on the most recommended music streaming services, the top most recommended laptop providers, and the top most recommended banks. We’ll have even more in the weeks ahead, so keep an eye out!

Don’t see your name here? Add your score to NPSBenchmarks.com if you think you should be on our list!

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