T-Mobile ranks highest among the seven largest wireless service providers in satisfying customers who call their provider for service or assistance, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2004 Wireless Customer Care Performance StudySM released on July 8.
The study provides a detailed report card of wireless customer care performance based on customer experiences with the service representative, automated response systems (ARS), and processing issues such as problem resolution efficiency and hold-time duration. Customer care performance is based on four key areas (in order of importance): service representative interaction (44%); resolution contact frequency (31%); ARS processing/navigation (13%); and hold time duration (12%).
T-Mobile's top-ranking index score of 103 is significantly higher than all other carriers included in the study. T-Mobile performs particularly well in the ARS area and in hold-time duration. Verizon Wireless, ALLTEL and Nextel also perform at or above the industry average.
Overall customer care satisfaction for the industry has declined 7 percent from 2003. The study indicates that the key customer care areas that have suffered the largest declines from 2003 are in the ARS area, specifically whether there are too many prompts/instructions while navigating through menu selections and whether the subscriber is able to talk to a live service representative when needed.
Another area for industry improvement related to customer care is in the amount of time customers are on hold. In 2004, customers report being on hold for an average of 6.4 minutes-one minute longer than in 2003. As a consequence, the total average contact time in 2004 has jumped more than 2 minutes versus 2003 (13.3 minutes vs. 11.3 minutes).
"As more value-added services are offered and tried by consumers, the number of contacts needed to resolve a customer complaint or issue has increased," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "Since churn levels triple among those who rate their wireless carrier below average in customer care, the challenge for wireless providers is to offer an easy and efficient customer care transaction experience."
The study finds several key wireless customer care patterns:
* More than one-half (54%) of wireless users have contacted the customer service department for assistance within the past year.
* Among those who contact their carrier, 65 percent do so via phone and 26 percent through the carrier's retail store. E-mail/Internet contacts have tripled since 2003 to 9 percent.
* Billing and network quality issues lead the list of reasons why customers contact their wireless carrier for assistance. The largest increases in type of contact inquiries from 2003 are issues relating to phone malfunctioning, phone replacement and questions/problems about voice messages and voice-message notifications.
The 2004 Wireless Customer Care Study is based on 7,469 wireless users who contacted customer care within the past year.