WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 30 July 2015 — Satisfaction with wireless carrier customer care service is lower among customers who have adopted equipment installment plans (EIPs), especially when it comes to timeliness issues, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance StudySM—Volume 2 and the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Performance StudySM—Volume 2, both released today.
Now in their 13th year, the semiannual studies examine how well wireless carriers provide customer service via the following contact channels: phone (consisting of two sub-channels—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.
Equipment installment plans—in which a mobile device is leased for a specific time period and can be purchased outright at the end of the term or upgraded to a newer device—are a relatively new offering in the wireless industry, available from both full-service and non-contract carriers. They appeal to customers because they allow the flexiblity to upgrade a device early and multiple times per year without penalty. According to wireless carriers, EIP adoption rates are increasing; however, the studies find that overall satisfaction among customers who have an EIP is 15 points lower than among those who have a traditional service contract. Notably, when contacting their carrier, satisfaction is lower among EIP customers regardless of the care channel they use (lower by 22 points in ARS only; 13 points in ARS, then CSR; 10 points in walk-in; and 26 points in online).
EIP customers are more likely to contact their current wireless carrier with questions or issues than customers with traditional contract plans during a three-month period (39% vs. 35%, respectively). In addition, depending on the channel used, timeliness can be an issue for EIP customers. For example, when using the ARS, then CSR channel, customers with EIPs are more likely to be transferred than customers with traditional contracts (43% vs. 40%, respectively), and they wait about 1 minute longer for their issue to be resolved (17.1 minutes vs. 15.9 minutes, respectively).
“The need for EIP customers to contact their carrier regarding their plan contributes to lower levels of satisfaction, especially when resolution of their issue isn’t timely,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director and technology, media & telecom practice leader at J.D. Power. “Improving satisfaction among EIP customers is an opportunity for the industry as the share of such customers is rising. With respect to EIPs—or any new product or service release—to satisfy customers, carriers must anticipate questions and strive to improve response times, especially when addressing complex issues related to technology support.”
- Overall satisfaction among wireless full-service customers is 781—an improvement of 8 index points from the 2015 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study—Volume 1. Among non-contract wireless customers (725), there has been virtually no change from the 2015 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Performance Study—Volume 1.
- EIP customers wait about 2 minutes longer for problem resolution than customers with traditional plans when using the walk-in channel (17.4 minutes vs. 15.1 minutes, respectively) or the online channel (14.4 minutes vs. 12.3, respectively).
- When using the online channel, customers with EIPs provide considerably lower ratings than those with traditional contracts for the helpfulness of chat/email representative (7.53 on a 10-point scale vs. 7.89, respectively) and timeliness of resolving your problem, question or request (7.37 vs. 7.69).
- EIP customers are also more likely to use the online channel due to device malfunctions/repair issues than customers with traditional plans (22% vs. 17%, respectively).
T-Mobile ranks highest among wireless full-service carriers, with an overall score of 795. T-Mobile performs particularly well in the ARS, then CSR channel and performs above the full-service average in three of four service channels.
Virgin Mobile ranks highest among wireless non-contract carriers, scoring 760. Virgin Mobile performs above the non-contract average three of four service channels.
The 2015 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Performance Study—Volume 2 is based on responses from 9,789 full-service wireless customers, and the 2015 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Performance Study—Volume 2 is based on responses from 3,084 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 2015 through June 2015.
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