Wireless phone customers are increasingly relying on customer service channels other than the telephone, according to [pdf] a new survey from J.D. Power and Associates.
Store, Web Gain Popularity
The 2010 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Performance Study, Volume 2 finds that compared with six months ago, there have been substantial increases in the proportion of wireless customers who use the retail store location and online/Web channels to seek customer care.
During the first half of 2010, 29% of customers visited a retail store location regarding their most recent customer care inquiry or issue. In comparison, 26% of customers did the same between July and December 2009.
The change is even greater among those customers who indicate they contacted their provider online either through email or the website, as 11% overall report doing so in the first half of 2010, up from 9% in the last half of 2009.
Store Provides Most Satisfaction
While a majority of customers, 60%, on average, still use the telephone to contact their wireless carrier for customer care issues, the study finds that overall, customers are notably more satisfied when they resolve their issue by visiting a retail store than they are when they utilize other methods of contact.
In addition, customer care performance scores among customers who visit a retail store location have significantly improved from six months ago. Overall satisfaction among these customers averages 775 on a 1,000-point scale–an increase of 23 index points.
T-Mobile, AT&T Lead in Customer Satisfaction
T-Mobile ranks highest in wireless customer care performance with an overall score of 777 out of 1,000 (industry average is 753). T-Mobile performs particularly well in phone contacts that originate in the automated response system (ARS) channel and are then transferred to a live service representative, and through phone calls made directly to a customer service representative.
AT&T follows in the overall rankings with a score of 757, and performs well among customers who visit retail store locations and among customers who contact their carrier online.
Service, Equipment Prompt Most Complaints
Overall, 39% of wireless customers contact their carrier due to service and equipment-related issues, while 34% contact for billing, 25% for incorrect charges, 23% for price or cost, 22% for call quality, 9% percent for messaging issues, 9% for network coverage, and 6% for credit issues.
Positive Care Drives Loyalty
Wireless customers who have had a positive care experience are more loyal, and are therefore less likely to switch carriers in the future, on average. Among customers who indicate they “definitely will not switch” carriers in the next 12 months, the customer care index averages 827, compared with just 602 among those who say they “definitely will switch,” a difference of 225 points.
One in 10 Customers Have Contact Issues
A vast majority of customers get through to their carrier on their first try (90%), but some customers (10%) are misdirected or are put on hold for too long and must make more than one contact. The average wireless customer spends 5.27 minutes on hold when trying to reach their carrier via phone.
Excellent Customer Service Boosts Spending
Americans will spend 9% more with companies that provide excellent customer service, according to recent data from American Express. A majority of Americans report that quality customer service is more important to them in today’s economic environment (61%) and will spend an average of 9% more when they believe a company provides excellent service.
About the Data: The 2010 Wireless Customer Care Performance Study, Volume 2 is based on responses from 9,690 wireless customers who contacted their carrier’s customer care department within the past six months. The study was fielded from January through June 2010. J.D. Power and Associates is the publisher of the included chart, which came from the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Performance Study – Volume 2.