WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 23 April 2015 — As wireless manufacturers (OEMs) struggle to differentiate themselves, flagship device launches are an influential and critical driver of device selection, user experience and, ultimately, satisfaction with the brand, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction StudySM—Volume 1 released today.
Now in its 9th year, the Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction Study measures customer satisfaction based on four factors (listed in order of importance): performance (29%); features (26%); physical design (23%); and ease of operation (22%). The study measures customer satisfaction with wireless OEMs across Tier 1 wireless carriers. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.
The study finds that a brand’s ranking is closely related to the performance satisfaction with its latest smartphone models, which often feature the newest technology and features and services. But the smartphone and its technology must work extremely well, and meet the varying needs of its customers, to help the brand differentiate itself in an ultra-competitive market.
When the smartphone performs well, it increases the likelihood of model loyalty and customer satisfaction with the brand. For example, advance performance and technology such as facial recognition, finger print security identification and latest OS platforms have helped drive satisfaction up with the latest device launches for the Apple iPhone 6 series, HTC One Max series and Samsung Galaxy 5 and Note 4 series. In turn, this has propelled each of these smartphone brands to rank highest among the respective carriers in the study.
“Satisfaction with performance differs by smartphone brand across carriers,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director and practice leader of telecommunications at J.D. Power. “When launching a new smartphone device, carriers should be mindful how they position the device features and services. This can influence model selection and a customer’s experience with the device. When customers are satisfied with their smartphone model selection, the OEM and carrier can benefit through customer loyalty and repurchase intent.”
- Apple ranks highest in overall satisfaction among wireless customers of T-Mobile (844) and Verizon Wireless (837). HTC ranks highest (841) among customers of Sprint, and Samsung ranks highest among AT&T customers (854).
- Overall satisfaction with smartphone devices is highest among AT&T customers (847), followed by Sprint (837); Verizon Wireless (830); and T-Mobile (825) customers. Overall satisfaction among smartphone owners is 836.
- When smartphone owners are highly satisfied with their smartphone performance (provide ratings
of 8 out of 10 on a 10-point scale), there is a positive financial impact for carriers. Highly satisfied owners spend on average, $6 more per month on wireless services than owners with lower satisfaction. Additionally, brand repurchase intent among highly satisfied owners is 20 percent higher than among owners with low smartphone satisfaction (ratings of 7 or lower).
- Although smartphone owners continue to cite features as the primary reason for selecting a device, the rate has declined significantly to 32 percent from 38 percent in the 2013 Vol. 2 study.
- The primary reasons for purchasing a smartphone device differ by carrier. For example, Verizon Wireless customers are more likely to purchase their smartphone device based on the phone’s features (34%), while T-Mobile customers are more likely to select their smartphone due to the phone’s price (30%).
- The reason customers purchase a smartphone impacts satisfaction and repurchase intent. Selecting a device based on operating system generates significantly higher levels of satisfaction (859) repurchase rates. Among these satisfied customers, 41 percent say they “definitely will” repurchase than among those whose selections are based on cost-specific reasons, such as price (800 and 18%, respectively).
The 2015 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction Study—Volume 1 is based on experiences evaluated by 12,803 smartphone customers who have owned their current smartphone device less than one year and who are customers of the four Tier 1 carriers. The study was fielded between September 2014 and February 2015.
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 A Tier 1 carrier includes the four national wireless providers in the United States: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.