The influence of network service reliability on customer retention
This study aims to determine the influence of network service reliability on customer retention. The study identifies the network services or applications commonly used by the average user on the Internet. A framework for the measurement of the reliability of these network services is developed for third-tier internet service providers (ISPs). Because ISPs have limited flexibility in competitively up scaling the capacity of their physical networks, designing and delivering compelling value proportions to different ISP market segments will largely depend on network service reliability. The ability of the ISPs to optimise scarce resources and maintain reliable services may be critical to their future survival. The study was conducted based on the corporate customers of both Datacom and Comnet. The customers used leased line, fixed wireless or dial-up as service delivery infrastructure (SDI). A structured questionnaire was administered to a stratified random sample of 97 respondents. Network service reliability was measured using the accessibility, continuity and fulfilment (ACF) framework. Customer retention was predicted using multiple regression. The study revealed that network service reliability positively influences customer retention. It was found that 64% of the variability in customer retention could be explained by the level of reliability of services offered over ISP networks. Furthermore, corporate customer service experiences were found to be impacted by the network service delivery infrastructure used to connect the customer. Leased lines appeared to provide the most reliable services compared to fixed wireless and dial-up. In addition, email, direct user-to-user and internet link access were found to be significant predictors of customer retention. These findings demonstrate the importance of network service reliability to the future of third-tier internet service providers. The study therefore recommends the implementation of service quality improvement programs by the ISPs. The research also points to the need for further research in the area of network service reliability improvements in telecommunications.