AT&T Ranks Highest in Wireless Purchase Experience Performance among Full-Service Carriers; Consumer Cellular Ranks Highest among Non-Contract Carriers

COSTA MESA, Calif.: 11 Aug. 2016 — Overall satisfaction with the wireless purchase process increases as the expected duration of mobile device ownership decreases, which is heavily influenced by age and openness to new technology, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Wireless Purchase Experience Full-Service Performance StudySM—Volume 2 and the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Wireless Purchase Experience Non-Contract Performance StudySM—Volume 2, both released today.

The studies find that overall satisfaction with the purchase experience is higher among wireless customers who purchase a mobile device and expect to use it less than one year than among those who purchase a phone and expect to use it longer. Among full-service customers who purchase or upgrade a wireless phone with their carrier, overall satisfaction is 853 (on a 1,000-point scale) among those who plan to use it for less than a year; 843 among those who plan to use it between one and two years; 809 among those who plan to use it between two and three years; and 817 among those who plan to use it three or more years.

Wireless full-service customers who expect to use their phone less than a year tend to be younger and early adopters of new technology. More than half (58%) of customers who expect to own their phone for less than one year are 18 to 34 years old. This compares to only 28% of all customers expecting to own their phone for three or more years. Further, 79% of customers who expect to own their phone for less than a year say they “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that they are among the first to try new technological products, compared with 37% who expect to own their phone for three or more years who say the same.

“It’s surprising to learn that the expected length of mobile device ownership can influence the purchase experience process,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director and technology, media & telecom practice leader at J.D. Power. “Part of the reason is demographics and willingness to own the latest smartphone with the latest technology and service capabilities. However, the study suggests that cost and service coupled with offerings, such as more data plan minutes or unlimited usage plans, are significant reasons overall satisfaction is above average among younger subscribers.”

The largest satisfaction gaps between customers who expect to own their mobile device less than one year and the overall average are in the cost of service (+65 points) and offerings and promotions (+31) factors. “This underscores the importance of catering to younger customers and early adopters by carrying and promoting phone brands that release new models more frequently,” Parsons said.

Following are key findings of the 2016 studies:

  • Customer Satisfaction Improves: Overall purchase experience satisfaction is 834 among wireless full-service customers and 807 among non-contract customers. Satisfaction in the full-service segment has risen 31 points from the 2016 Vol. 1 Study, while satisfaction in the non-contract segment has risen 16 points.
  • Incidence of Expected Mobile Device Ownership: More than one-third (34%) of full-service wireless customers expect to own their mobile device less than one year, compared with 13% of those who expect to own their device for three or more years.
  • Mobile Device Cost of Ownership: Full-service wireless customers who purchase a phone and expect to use it less than one year pay an average of $188, compared with $279 for those who expect to use it between one and two years; $312 for those who expect to use it between two and three years; and $313 for those who expect to use it three or more years.
  • Wireless Customers Prefer to Purchase Device in Retail Store: More than three-fourths (78%) of full-service customers indicate they made a purchase in a wireless retail store, while 54% purchased over the phone and 61% purchased online. In contrast, 62% of non-contract customers indicate their most recent purchase transaction occurred in a store and only 38% made the purchase via telephone.

Study Rankings

AT&T ranks highest among wireless full-service carriers, with an overall score of 845. AT&T performs particularly well in four of the six purchase experience factors, excelling in the store representative and offerings and promotions factors.

Consumer Cellular ranks highest for the first time among wireless non-contract carriers, scoring 899. Consumer Cellular performs particularly well across all six purchase experience factors, especially in offerings and promotions and cost of service.

About the Studies

Now in their 13th year, the semiannual studies evaluate the wireless purchase experience of customers who use any one of three purchase channels: phone calls with sales representatives; visits to a retail wireless store; or online/website. Overall purchase experience satisfaction with both full-service and non-contract carriers is measured in six factors (in order of importance): store sales representative; website; offerings and promotions; phone sales representative; store facility; and cost of service. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

The 2016 U.S. Wireless Purchase Experience Full-Service Performance Study—Volume 2 is based on responses from 7,481 full-service customers. The 2016 U.S. Wireless Purchase Experience Non-Contract Performance Study—Volume 2 is based on responses from 2,838 non-contract customers. Both semiannual studies are based on the experiences of current wireless service customers who made a sales transaction with their current carrier within the past three months. The study was fielded from January through June 2016.

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Media Contacts:

Geno Effler

Costa Mesa, California

(714) 621-6224