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T-Mobile tops J.D. Power customer satisfaction study – again

J.D. Power and Associates have released their 2011 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Performance Study—Volume 1, which attempts to measure customer satisfaction with mobile operators based on responses from over 9,700 mobile users who contacted their providers’ customer service departments from July through December 2010. And, for the second year running, number-four mobile operator T-Mobile earned the top ranking, with an overall score of 758 on a 1,000-point scale. Verizon Wireless came in second with a score of 743; the industry average was 739.

J.D. Power also found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that customers are generally more satisfied with their support queries if they interact with a human being—whether over a phone or in-person at a store—as opposed to dealing with automated response systems via phone or the Web.

“As more companies encourage customers to contact them on the Web to save operating costs, they run the risk of increased customer churn if the number of contacts needed to resolve a complaint or issue rises,” said J.D. Power and Associates senior director for wireless services Kirk Parsons, in a statement. “Switching intent is four times as high among those who rate their wireless carrier below average in customer care, so the challenge for wireless carriers is to offer an easy and efficient customer care transaction experience.”

The study, currently in its ninth year, found that just over half (51 percent) of telephone contacts in the industry are resolved primarily by a service representative, rather than via automated systems. Where the industry average satisfaction level was 739, the satisfaction level for Web-based contact was just 684 out of 1,000, and automated response systems only did a little better, averaging 704. Reaching a live human being, however, had an overall satisfaction rate of 774.

The study also found customers are most satisfied with their customer service experience if they spend only a short time using automated systems, and quickly move on to a live representative. The study found T-Mobile did a particularly good job at handling calls that move through automated systems to live representatives, as well as direct calls to customer service, although T-Mobile also lead all wireless carriers amongst users seeking help online.

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