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Internet service providers (ISPs) can do more to ensure maximum levels of satisfaction among their broadband subscribers, it has been reported.

JD Power and Associates claimed that a number of factors impact on broadband customer service levels, including performance, reliability, billing, costs, technical support and promotions.

And according to Stuart Crawford-Browne, Director of Service Industries Research at the firm, customer expectations are continually rising.

"Broadband users want it to be faster, less expensive and constantly available without interruption," he stated.

"However, properly setting and managing customer expectations through transparent and clear communications and customer service can go a long way in helping ISPs differentiate themselves from the competition."

The firm found that, among 1,244 broadband subscribers surveyed, 24 per cent were receiving slower download speeds than they expected, negatively impacting upon ISP satisfaction levels.

Mr Crawford-Browne said it is "particularly critical" for ISPs to deliver on promised network speeds, especially when these expectations are being set by marketing and advertising messaging.

"Rather than advertising maximum network speeds, providers can benefit from communicating the range of speeds that customers can realistically expect to experience," he noted.

"Even though connection speeds may be affected by location and customer computer and software configurations, any perceived lag may be attributed to the service provider, thus lowering satisfaction levels."

JD Power and Associates also found that ISPs can improve customer satisfaction rates by offering loyalty incentives to broadband customers.

Just 33 per cent of mobile broadband customers and 38 per cent with a fixed line said they received some form of reward for their continued custom.

The report found that Plusnet was most popular ISP among survey respondents, with the Sheffield-based broadband provider performing particularly well on cost, reliability and performance.

O2 was found to be the most popular ISP among dongle users for the third consecutive year, followed by Orange and 3.

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