Owners of 4G-Enabled Phones Are Far More Likely to Contact Their Wireless Provider for Customer Service than Are Owners of Less Technologically Advanced Devices

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Verizon Wireless Ranks Highest in Wireless Customer Care Performance among Full-Service Providers, While Virgin Mobile Ranks Highest among Non-Contract Customers
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif: 2 February 2012 — Wireless customers who own a 4G-enabled device contact their provider for customer service considerably more frequently than do owners of less technologically advanced devices, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Performance Full-Service StudySM--Volume 1 and the 2012 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Performance Non-Contract StudySM--Volume 1, both released today.
Now in their 10th year, the semiannual studies provide a detailed report card on how well wireless carriers provide service to their customers via three contact methods: telephone calls with customer service representatives (CSR) and/or automated response systems (ARS); visits to a retail wireless store; and via the Web. The studies measure satisfaction and processing issues in each contact method, such as problem-resolution efficiency and hold-time duration.
Among customers who currently own a 4G (4th Generation)-enabled device--which uses a faster, more efficient network--60 percent report having contacted their current wireless service provider during the past six-month period. In comparison, only 47 percent of a non-4G smartphone and 35 percent of traditional/feature phone owners contacted their provider for support.
Owners of a 4G-enabled device have a much greater propensity to contact their carrier due to network-related problems (18%) than do owners of a traditional phone that uses less advanced networks (11%). One of the main factors contributing to the higher contact rate among owners of 4G-enabled devices may be that higher network speeds are available only in limited areas, while slower 3G technology is offered in more areas of the country.
"It's not unexpected that customers who use new technology or services would be more likely to contact their carrier with questions or problems, particularly with the 4G network rollout that began in 2011," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "What is important to understand is that investment is needed in support services to not only handle the increase in customer interactions, but also to provide service representatives with the necessary training and information across all contact channels in order to offer a timely and superior service experience. In fact, it takes approximately five minutes more per contact, on average, to resolve issues pertaining to 4G-enabled devices, compared with issue resolution times for traditional phones."
According to Parsons, creating a superior customer experience leads to a higher propensity for customers to spend more on services and a lower likelihood they will switch providers in the future. This is especially true among customers who own a 4G-enabled device, as they report spending $36 more per month and are more likely to say they "definitely will recommend" their current carrier than are customers who own a traditional mobile phone.
Verizon Wireless ranks highest in wireless customer care performance among full-service providers with an overall score of 762 on a 1,000-point scale. Verizon Wireless performs particularly well in phone contacts that originate in the ARS channel and are then transferred to a live service representative, and in phone calls made directly to a CSR.
Virgin Mobile ranks highest in overall customer care satisfaction among non-contract service providers with an overall score of 735. Virgin Mobile performs particularly well in phone contacts that originate in the ARS channel and are then transferred to a live service representative, and in phone calls made directly to a CSR.
The study also finds several key wireless customer care patterns:
  • More than one-third (38%) of full-service wireless customers who resolved their issue via the online channel say they used their carrier's online chat function for customer service, an increase of two percentage points from July 2011. In addition, satisfaction is higher among customers who use the online chat function (749) than among customers who research information on their carrier's website (734); email their carrier directly (721); or utilize online user forums (664). 
  • Satisfaction averages 100 points higher (733) among non-contract customers who are initially addressed by a representative with the experience and understanding needed to resolve their issue, compared with customers who are transferred or referred to another representative (633).
  • Approximately 40 percent of smartphone customers who contacted their carrier with a problem did so because they had a device malfunction or were experiencing repair-related issues. 
The 2012 Wireless Customer Care Full Service Study--Volume 1 is based on responses from 9,098 wireless customers. The 2012 Wireless Customer Care Non-Contract Study--Volume 1 is based on responses from 2,840 wireless customers. Both studies are based on the experiences of current customers who contacted their carrier's customer care department within the past six months. The study was fielded from July through December 2011.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions.  The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide.  McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates.  With sales of $6.2 billion in 2010, the Corporation has approximately 21,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries.  Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.
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