A new poll of broadband customer satisfaction has revealed a significant gap between the highest and lowest-rated providers.
The survey by design agency Rufus Leonard took into account satisfaction levels, based on five criteria - sense, feel, think, do and connect - and ranked these, with the result being a score connected to brand loyalty levels, which was measured in like future purchasing decisions and likelihood of recommending a brand to others.
It revealed the highest-ranked of the major broadband and telecoms providers was Sky on a score of 84 out of a possible 140, followed by Virgin Media on 80.
By contrast, the lowest-ranked major suppliers had little more than two-thirds satisfaction rates. TalkTalk just just 67 and BT barely did better, with 68.
In between, EE and Vodafone both scored 71, with O2 on 76 per cent and Three on 77 per cent.
Only smaller providers Lyca and Giffgaff did better than Sky, getting scores of 94 and 90 respectively.
The poll of 2,108 adults was designed to ensure all those included had at least six months of experience using at least one of these broadband and telecoms providers.
Commenting on the findings, chief strategy officer at Rufus Leonard Lawrence Parkes said: "Our findings are consistent with an industry that still prioritises acquisition at the expense of retention, resulting in a lack of investment in clear brand purposes and their corresponding brand experiences.
"This lack of differentiation across the category is a real challenge for these brands, and it’s damaging their retention efforts."
The findings may make a major impact on how each brand shapes its future strategy. If a provider with a low rating seeks to grow mainly through acquisition, it may be stymied by a lack of recommendation, not least because negative feedback from unhappy customers will back up the findings of any surveys.
Moreover, as more people get broadband services, the market for new customers will shrink, making expansion more dependent on a combination of acquisition and retention. That makes it more likely that providers who have good retention rates to start with will have a natural advantage when it comes to acquisition.