Overall satisfaction among wireless mobile phone owners has increased 4% when compared to 2005, marking the second time customer satisfaction has increased significantly in the past three times the study has been conducted, according to a J.D. Power and Associates report. The study measures satisfaction of customers who have owned their mobile phones for less than two years. Overall satisfaction with wireless handsets is measured based on performance in five key factors.
In order of importance, they are: physical design (24%), operation (22%), features (20%), handset durability (19%) and battery function (15%).
The study finds that customer satisfaction ratings have increased most significantly from 2005 in phone operation (increasing 5%) - specifically in areas related to ease of use, such as ease of phone navigation, clarity of text on the display screen and understanding how to operate the handset when purchased. Satisfaction with the features included with the phone has also risen significantly (5%), mainly based on higher ratings from customers for Internet features and the variety of services/features offered.
"As more services are added to mobile phones, the ability to navigate the handset in an easy and straightforward manner becomes paramount," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "For example, the incidence of sending/messaging video and picture content has increased 29 percent between 2005 and 2006. Making it easier for customers to learn how to operate specific product/service offerings can increase satisfaction performance and enhance the overall wireless experience. In fact, the handset can enhance the consumer's view of the wireless carrier by making the service experience much more enjoyable, which will promote future purchases of additional products."
Another trend the study tracks is the shift in the physical design of wireless handsets. Manufacturers are moving away from the candy bar-shape design and more toward clamshell designs. In 2002, nearly 70% of wireless users owned a candy bar-type handset, compared to 39% in 2006. Over the same time period, the percentage of wireless customers owning a clamshell-design phone has risen from 7% to 58%.
"The physical size and look of handsets is evolving to a smaller, more compact design that's more pleasing to the eye," said Parsons. "In the mind of the consumer, these changes are for the better, as satisfaction among owners of clamshell-design phones is significantly higher than of those who own a candy bar-shaped cell phone."
SANYO ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction with wireless cell phones, performing significantly above the industry average in four of five factors - physical design, operation, features and battery function. Following SANYO in rankings above the industry average are LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, respectively.
The study also finds several key wireless handset usage patterns:
- The average reported handset purchase price in 2006 is $86 - a decrease from $99 in 2004.
- The average replacement cycle for a typical handset is 17.6 months - a slight decrease from 18 months in 2005.
- The most-used features on the handset include the speakerphone (26%), send/receive short messaging services [SMS] (22%), camera capabilities (19%) and gaming (16%).
- More than 40 percent of all current wireless users compared other handset brands before selecting their current wireless phone. Those who do compare phones during the selection process are significantly more likely to be satisfied overall with their current handset than those who do not.
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