Canada's SaskTel Mobility, a regional operator in Saskatchewan, ranks highest in customer satisfaction with contracted wireless service, while Virgin Mobile, which is new to the Canadian market, ranks highest in pre-paid service, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2005 Canadian Wireless Customer Satisfaction Study. Samsung ranks highest in satisfying customers with wireless handsets.
The inaugural study examines customer attitudes and behavioral characteristics with the service, handset and retail wireless experience. Rankings are provided for contract service and pre-paid service providers, as well as for wireless handset manufacturers.
"It's interesting to note that the largest and most well-know carriers in Canada are not necessarily leading the industry in satisfying customers," said Charles Schade, senior director of research at J.D. Power and Associates. "In the rapidly changing and highly competitive Canadian wireless marketplace, understanding customer expectations and consistently delivering against them is a prerequisite for continued growth and profitability. While certain providers stand out in offering high levels of customer satisfaction, overall, we find considerable room for improvement with wireless providers in Canada."
Contracted Service Segment
Customer service, which includes the timely resolution of problems, availability and the courtesy and knowledge of the representative, is the most important driver (at 25%) of customer satisfaction with contracted wireless service. Other factors contributing to overall satisfaction in the segment are service plan options, cost of service, billing and call quality. SaskTel Mobility ranks highest among contract service providers, receiving particularly high ratings in customer service, call quality, billing and service plan options. MTS Mobility and FIDO, respectively, follow SaskTel in the segment rankings.
The study finds that nearly 37% of contract service customers report having a two-year contract with a wireless carrier, while an additional 37% are signed to a three-year contract. Contract customers report paying an average of $65.06 per month for service.
Pre-Paid Service Segment
Service plan options are most important to pre-paid service customers (at 32%), followed by customer service, cost of service and call quality. Virgin Mobile ranks highest, receiving segment-leading scores in all four factors, and exceptionally high ratings for customer service. TELUS follows Virgin in the segment rankings.
The study finds that 53% of pre-paid customers use their phone for personal use only. Pre-paid customers report spending an average of $22.33 per month to top up their service.
Nearly 70% of pre-paid customers say they would not change providers, even if they were able to keep the same phone number. The study finds that regional providers command a much higher level of loyalty than national providers. Providers receiving strong overall ratings from customers also enjoy a high percentage of customers saying they would "definitely" or "probably" recommend the service to others.
Wireless handset satisfaction is measured based on customer ratings of four factors: functionality, physical design, operation and battery. Samsung ranks highest among handset brands, receiving very high ratings from owners in all four factors, with particularly strong ratings for operation and design. Samsung is followed in the rankings by LG and Kyocera, respectively.
The study finds that wireless users are most interested in features that allow them to listen to music on their phones. While only 8 percent of users say they currently have phones that allow them to listen to music (as an MP3 player or FM radio), 40% say they are interested in the feature.
"While features such as integrated TV enjoy high visibility in the media, the simple addition of music may be a key selling point for a large number of consumers," said Schade.
According to the study, there are considerable differences in wireless use between the general public and the youth market (13- to 18-year-olds). While 46% of households in Canada currently use wireless service, mobile penetration is much higher for the youth market at 63%. A significant portion of the youth market report using advanced features, such as camera phones, short message services (SMS) and e-mail. Young wireless users also value the design of their handset much more than the average user.
The 2005 Canadian Wireless Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from about 5,000 wireless users who have been with their service provider for more than one month. The study also analyses the purchase intent from an additional 1,000 consumers who are not currently using a wireless phone, but intend to purchase one within 12 months."
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