Personal Touch Aids Wireless Customer Satisfaction

February 3, 2011

jdpower-customer-care-index-feb11.gifCustomer service issues that are personally handled by a service representative, either over the phone or at a retail store, are significantly more satisfying to customers than automated response interactions, according to [pdf] the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Performance Study, Volume 1.

Direct Service Rep Interaction Boosts Care Index Score

Overall, study data shows that among customers who speak with a service representative without going through an automated response system, the customer care index score averages 774 on a 1,000-point scale, well above the industry average score of 739. Among customers who use other methods of contact, satisfaction is considerably lower.

The study finds that one of the main factors contributing to this performance disparity is the quality of the response provided. A service representative, either over the phone or in person, can answer both initial and follow-up questions from customers and clarify answers. This kind of flexibility is very limited in both ARS and Web-based contacts.

Slight Majority of Phone Contacts Handled by Service Rep

The slight majority (51%) of telephone contacts are resolved primarily via a service representative. The study also finds that customers are most satisfied with their experience when they can reach a customer service representative quickly and spend only a brief period of time using automated systems to resolve their problem.

T-Mobile Tops in Wireless Customer Care

jd-power-customer-care-feb-2011.JPGT-Mobile ranks highest in wireless customer care performance for a second consecutive time with an overall score of 758. T-Mobile 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.

Verizon Wireless follows in the overall rankings with a score of 743 and performs well among customers who contact their service representative directly and among customers who contact their carrier online.

Other Findings

  • Overall, 36% of wireless customers contact their carrier due to service and equipment-related issues, while 32% contact for general billing issues; 28% for incorrect charges; 23% for call quality; and 21% for price or cost.
  • Wireless customers who indicate that they 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, customer care index scores average 810, compared with just 566 among those who say they “definitely will switch,” a difference of 244 points.
  • Although the vast majority (88%) of customers get through to their carrier on their first try, 12% of customers are misdirected or put on hold for too long and must make more than one contact. The average wireless customer spends 6.24 minutes on hold when trying to reach their carrier via phone, a substantial increase from 5.27 minutes just six months ago.

Quality Problems Drive Switching

Results from the recent J.D. Power and Associates Wireless Call Quality Performance Study, Volume 2 show that 14% of customers say they “definitely will” or “probably will” switch wireless providers in the next 12 months and that these customers experience a particularly high rate of call-related problems. The rate of call quality problems among customers who say they “definitely will” switch their current wireless provider is more than four times higher than problem rates among customers who say they “definitely will not” switch in the next 12 months (29 PP100 vs. 7 PP100, respectively).

About the Data: The 2011 Wireless Customer Care Performance Study, Volume 1 is based on responses from 9,755 wireless customers who contacted their carrier’s customer care department within the past six months. The study was fielded from July through December 2010. The study is published by J.D. Power and Associates and is the source of the enclosed charts.


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