T-Mobile received the highest index score (105) in a J.D. Power and Associates study on wireless-customer care performance, followed by Verizon Wireless (101), Alltel, (99) and AT&T (99).
Of all wireless customers, 46% have contacted the customer-care service center for assistance within the past year, the study found. Of these contacts:
- 42% concerned a billing-related service inquiry.
- 57% were attributed to inaccurate charges.
Among customers who contact their carrier:
- 73% do so by telephone.
- 23% do so through their carrier’s retail store.
- 4% use the internet (email or company website).
T-Mobile ranked high among its competitors in quick problem resolution and in its automated response system (ARS) point-of-contact method.
“The fact that T-Mobile performs well in handling issues with regard to the ARS channel is particularly noteworthy,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. “Typically, customer service issues that are handled by a computer automated response system generate significantly lower customer care ratings when compared with issues handled by a live phone representative.”
Humans Better than ARS
Customers who speak with a telephone service representative report a higher average index score (126 points vs. the industry average, 98 points); this score drops dramatically (to 75 points) when issues are handled by an automated response system.
- ARS performance has decreased 11% in the past four reporting periods, due to
- Too many prompts before getting to the desired menu
- Complicated telephone menu system navigation
- Customers were on hold an average of 3.89 minutes – up from 3.17 minutes in the last reporting period (July 2007).
- In comparison, those who visit the carrier’s retail store said it takes, on average, 9 minutes to speak to a representative.
“Companies are continuously striving to save operating costs by implementing internet- and computer-based customer service programs, yet they are running the risk of increasing the rate of customers who will switch carriers, especially as the number of contacts needed to resolve issues rises,” said Parsons.
“Future churn levels are almost four times as high among those who rate their wireless carrier below average in customer care. Thus, the challenge for wireless providers is to offer an easy and efficient customer care transaction experience.”
About the study: The 2008 Wireless Customer Care Performance Study – Volume 1 is based on responses from 12,492 wireless customers who contacted their carrier’s customer care department within the past year. The results are compiled from the past two reporting waves, which were conducted in June and September 2007. Companies were measured on the strength of their customer service in telephone calls with a service representative and/or automated response system (ARS), visits to a retail wireless store, and online/internet connection.