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J.D. power Rankings Show Disparity in Service for Wireless Contract and Non-Contract Customers
Verizon Wireless ranked highest in wireless customer care performance among full-service providers.
Posted Jul 29, 2011
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Overall customer service satisfaction is much higher among wireless contract-based customers than those who subscribe to prepaid or non-contract service plans, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Performance Full-Service Study Volume 2 and the 2011 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Performance Non-Contract Study Volume 2, both released today.

Now in its ninth year, the semiannual study provides a detailed report card on how well wireless carriers provide service to their customers via three contact methods: telephone calls with customer service representatives (CSRs) and/or automated response systems (ARS); visits to a retail wireless store; and on the Web. Within each contact method, the study measures satisfaction and processing issues, such as problem-resolution efficiency and hold-time duration.

Among customers who sign a contract for wireless service, overall customer care performance averages 761 on a 1,000-point scale—23 index points higher than the average satisfaction among non-contract subscribers (738). One of the main factors contributing to this performance disparity is service contacts that originate in the ARS channel that are eventually transferred to a live service representative. Specifically, non-contract customers report longer hold times than contract customers do when waiting to speak to a service representative. Among non-contact customers, reported hold time averages more than one minute longer than among contract customers (5.5 vs. 4.4 minutes, respectively).

"It is not unexpected that hold times are shorter for contract customers, since full-service providers generally have access to existing account information that helps identify the customer immediately once contact is made," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "There is also a disparity between the contract and non-contract segments in terms of the quality of the experience with the service representative. In particular, non-contract customers are considerably less satisfied than are contract customers in the areas of knowledge about plans; personal concern for customers; and apathy towards customers."

According to Parsons, treating customers with respect by personalizing the transaction should not differ among customers in each segment, regardless of their tenure or the monetary value to the provider. This personalization is even more critical among customers in the non-contract segment, as the frequency of switching providers is 2.5 times higher, compared with contract customers (21 percent vs. 8 percent).

Verizon Wireless ranked highest in wireless customer care performance among full-service providers with an overall score of 770. Verizon Wireless performs particularly well in phone contacts that originate in the ARS channel and are then transferred to a live service representative, and through phone calls made directly to a CSR. T-Mobile follows in the overall rankings with a score of 766 and performs well among customers who contact their carrier online or through the ARS-only channel.

Boost Mobile ranked highest in overall customer care satisfaction among non-contract service providers, with an overall score of 763. This overall score is comparable to the high-performing full-service provider scores. The company performs particularly well in phone contacts that originate in the ARS channel and are then transferred to a live service representative, and through phone calls made directly to a CSR.

The study also found several key wireless customer care patterns:

  • Among full-service customers who contacted their carrier to report a specific problem, 40 percent of calls were due to a phone repair/malfunction issue, while 14 percent of customers reported problems with an incorrect bill or network connection issues. Conversely, among those who contacted their carriers with general questions, 39 percent of calls pertained to inquiries about product/services, 23 percent were for general billing issues, and 11 percent were for service coverage.
  • Wireless customers who indicated that they have had a positive care experience are more loyal and are, therefore, less likely to switch carriers, on average. Among full-service customers who indicated they "definitely will not switch" carriers in the next 12 months, customer care index scores average 834, compared with just 618 among those who say they "definitely will switch"—a difference of 216 points.
  • Despite owning phones with more complicated features, satisfaction among wireless customers with smartphones is comparable with the customer care experience of those with traditional mobile phones (757 vs. 756, respectively). However, smartphone owners, compared with traditional phone owners, are significantly more likely to have contacted their carrier with an issue during the past six months (48 percent vs. 35 percent, respectively).

The 2011 Wireless Customer Care Full Service Study is based on responses from 8,154 wireless customers. The 2011 Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Study& is based on responses from 1,460 wireless customers. Both studies are among current subscribers who contacted their carrier's customer care department within the past six months. The study was fielded from January through June.

Overall Customer Care Index Rankings

 

Full-Service Customers

 

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

 

Firm

Index score

JDPower.com Power Circle Ratings
For Consumers

 

Verizon Wireless

770

5

 

T-Mobile

766

4

 

Full-Service Average

762

3

 

Sprint Nextel

752

2

 

AT&T

751

2

 

 
   

Overall Customer Care Index Rankings

 

Non-Contract Customers

 

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

 

Firm

Index score

JDPower.com Power Circle Ratings
For Consumers

 

Boost Mobile

763

5

 

Non-Contract Average

709

3

 

Tracfone

706

3

 

MetroPCS

703

3

 

Cricket

699

3

 

Virgin Mobile

681

2

 

Net10

649

2

 

 
  

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