• February 5, 2015

Online Chat Benefits Wireless Customer Care, J.D. Power Study Finds

Satisfaction with wireless carrier customer care service is positively impacted by the increased use and improved performance of online channels, especially the chat function, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance StudySM—Volume 1 and the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Performance StudySM—Volume 1.

J.D. Power's semiannual studies examine how well wireless carriers provide customer service via three main contact channels: phone (consisting of three sub-channels—automated response system (ARS) then customer service representative (CSR); CSR only; and ARS only); walk-in (retail store); and online. The studies measure satisfaction with each contact method and analyze processing issues, such as the efficiency of problem resolution and the duration of hold times. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

"For wireless customers, online chat is an efficient and immediate experience for problem resolution. This contributes to higher levels of satisfaction, especially pertaining to service issues or questions such as billing or service and device-related issues associated with upgrades," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of the telecom services practice at J.D. Power, in a statement. "As carriers release new products and services, such automated systems as online chat must continue to evolve to address harder-to-answer questions related to technology support."

Overall satisfaction among wireless full-service customers is 773, and is 726 among non-contract wireless customers.

Overall satisfaction is higher among wireless full-service customers who contact their carrier via the online channel than among those who use the phone channel (778 vs. 763, respectively). Online, the chat experience has the greatest impact on satisfaction because customer care issues can be resolved on the first contact. For example, when wireless customers use the chat feature, the first-contact resolution rate is 68 percent, compared with 61 percent when they do not use chat.

Other key findings of the study include the following:

  • Overall, online channel usage by wireless customers for their most recent care experience has risen to 18 percent in 2015 from 9 percent in 2011.
  • Online satisfaction is highest among customers who use the chat feature (782), compared with among those who use other social media forums to find information (775) and email (764). Online chat is differentiated by personalized service and knowledgeable representatives.
  • Among wireless full-service customers who solve their issue online, 55 percent indicate having used the chat function, up 12 percentage points from 2014 Vol. 1, followed by email (17%) and other social media forums (8 percent).  
  • Online customer care satisfaction among full-service wireless customers is substantially higher (+134 points) when an online chat representative addresses the customer by name and when the rep has all the account information available.
  • There are three core reasons full-service wireless customers contact their carrier—problems, questions and account changes. These reasons differ by channel. The phone channel is used primarily for questions (40 percent), followed by problems (38 percent) and account changes (18 percent). The walk-in channel is used primarily for problems (43 percent), questions (36 percent) and account changes (15 percent). Contact via the online channel is use mainly for questions (53 percent), followed by problems (25 percent) and account changes (15 percent).

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