T-Mobile, Verizon Top Customer Care Ratings - InformationWeek

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8/13/2009
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T-Mobile, Verizon Top Customer Care Ratings

Customer service perception can have a significant impact on subscriber churn rate.

Alltel, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless topped J.D. Power and Associates' latest study for customer care in the cellular provider market.

The report, "Wireless Customer Care Ratings Volume 2," surveyed 12,000 wireless subscribers about the quality of customer service they received either on the phone, in a retail location, or online. Overall, the study found customer care has improved considerably since the first report in February, as 76% of calls to customer service resolved the issue the first time, compared to 66% in the prior study.

Customer care can have a meaningful impact on the carrier's churn rate, as the study found 17% of subscribers who have to contact their carrier two to three times to resolve an issue are likely to switch service provider in the future. By comparison, only 10% of those who fixed their problem with one contact are likely to switch, the study said.

Alltel, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless all tied and received the highest score in the study. Alltel, which still operates as an independent carrier for about 2.2 million customers, was particularly good at in-store resolutions. Verizon performed well with identifying and resolving customers' problems quickly, and T-Mobile was good at transferring customers from automated systems to live representatives.

"While each of the highest-performing carriers has individual strengths, all are successful in reaching the customers quickly," said Kirk Parsons, senior director at J.D. Power and Associates, in a statement. "All have representatives who demonstrate high levels of courtesy, concern, and knowledge, which translates into effective problem resolution and higher satisfaction levels among their customers."

AT&T received an "about average" ranking, and the company routinely receives complaints from a small, but vocal crowd about iPhone reception in major cities. Sprint Nextel rated last out of the five carriers, and this could be a reason the company continues to bleed subscribers. CEO Dan Hesse has attempted to tackle this problem by implementing new policies like the Ready Now program, which helps customers set up their cell phones or smartphones before leaving the store.


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