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AT&T, Consumer Cellular Rank Highest in Respective Wireless Customer Care Segments

COSTA MESA, Calif.: 28 July 2016 — Customer contact with wireless carriers via online self-service is at an all-time high, as a growing shift in mobile device usage is affecting the way customers contact their providers with service inquiries, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance StudySM—Volume 2 and the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Performance StudySM—Volume 2, both released today.

Now in their 14th year, the semiannual studies examine how well wireless carriers provide customer service via the following contact channels: phone, which consists of two subchannels (automated response system (ARS), then customer service representative (CSR) and ARS only); walk-in (retail store); and online (website, online chat and social media). The studies measure satisfaction with each contact method and analyze processing issues, such as the efficiency of problem resolution and the duration of hold times. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

Wireless carrier customers have a variety of service channels to choose from when they experience an issue or have a question. Based on contact occurrences in the study, the frequency of using the online channel has increased considerably from last volume. Nearly half (47%) of customers who had a customer service contact during the previous three months used the channel, compared with 42% just six months ago. This represents the biggest increase among the three largest contact channels examined in the study. 

More than half (53%) of full-service customers had a walk-in service contact, compared with 49% over the previous six-month period, while 42% had an ARS, then CSR contact, compared with 43% in the previous six months. Part of the reason behind the rise in contact frequency via the online channel is the increasing use of mobile devices. Nearly three-fourths (72%) of customers who contact their carrier online use a smartphone or tablet to do so. In most cases where a mobile device is used (85%), the device is associated with the customer’s account.

“Given the number of dedicated contact channels available, the self-service channels generate the largest increases in contact volume over time and represent a growing trend among customers who prefer that experience vs. more in-person contact,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director and technology, media & telecom practice leader at J.D. Power. “Some of the main influences contributing to the frequency gains in self-service channels are the proliferation of mobile device usage and the improved experience in user interface and technology that allow for multiple inquiries, faster response and higher overall satisfaction.”

Online satisfaction is considerably higher when using a smartphone or tablet for online care, compared with using a desktop or laptop computer (835 vs. 766, respectively). Online satisfaction is especially high when a customer uses a mobile device associated with their account (840).

More importantly, overall resolution times to an online inquiry are shorter among those who  use a mobile device rather than a desktop/laptop computer (11.8 minutes vs. 13.4 minutes, respectively).

“As customer care usage patterns continue to change, it’s important for wireless carriers to meet or exceed the service expectations of the growing self-service channels and the different platforms and devices that can access customer information and help assist when problems arise, which can lead to increased satisfaction and future loyalty,” Parsons said.

Additional key findings of the 2016 studies include:

  • Wireless Care Satisfaction Improves: Overall satisfaction among wireless full-service customers is 804, an improvement of 16 points from the 2016 Full-Service Study—Vol 1. Satisfaction among non-contract wireless customers is 761, a significant 23-point increase from the 2016 Non-Contract Study—Vol 1.
  • Overall Satisfaction by Contact Type: Overall satisfaction is highest among customers whose online contact was via a user forum (838), followed by social media (836), email (827), carrier website (826) and online chat (813).
  • Online Contact Channels: Researching information on the carrier’s website (51%) is the most common activity via online contact, followed by online chat (44%), email (26%), user forums (23%), and social media (7%).
  • Reasons for Contact Vary by Channel: Among wireless customers contacting their carrier by telephone, billing (44%) is the most frequently reported reason for contact. The same is true for customers contacting via the online channel (52%). The majority of wireless customers visiting a retail facility for customer service do so for service options and equipment issues (40%).

Study Rankings

AT&T ranks highest among wireless full-service carriers, with an overall score of 820. AT&T performs particularly well in the walk-in (retail stores) and online channels, and performs above the full-service average in all four service channels.

Consumer Cellular ranks highest for the first time among wireless non-contract carriers, scoring 878. Consumer Cellular performs above the non-contract average in all four service channels, especially in the ARS, then CSR channel.

The 2016 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study—Volume 2 is based on responses from 7,556 full-service wireless customers, and the 2016 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Performance Study—Volume 2 is based on responses from 2,543 non-contract wireless customers. The studies are based on the experiences of current customers who contacted their carrier’s customer care department within the past three months. The studies were fielded from January through June 2016.

Media Relations Contacts

Geno Effler; Costa Mesa, Calif.; 714-621-6224; media.relations@jdpa.com

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Media Contacts:

Geno Effler

Costa Mesa, California

(714) 621-6224

media.relations@jdpa.com