Wireless phone customers who have problems or issues with their service are more likely to contact their current provider than they have been in the past in order to resolve the inquiry, according to a J.D. Power report. The study finds that 59 percent of wireless customers contact their provider within a 12 month period -- the highest level since measurement began in 2000. Since that time, the average incidence rate has steadily climbed.
In 2005, the incidence rate reached 54 percent -- up from 47 percent in 2000.
A key factor contributing to the increase in contact frequency is not only the rise of new wireless services and products that are available, but also the complexity of using those products. As customers capture still pictures or video, download ring tones, play MP3 files, and even watch TV clips on their wireless phones, they are increasingly likely to call their provider for support. This puts pressure on the provider's customer care centers and service representatives to not only handle the increase in customer inquiries, but to also understand the issue or problem and attempt to get the inquiry resolved in a timely manner.
"As more wireless companies encourage customers to try new services, this trend will continue to rise," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "The downside is that carriers run the risk of decreasing customer satisfaction and losing customers to other carriers. Since future switching levels are 50 percent higher among customers who need to contact their carrier to get the inquiry resolved than those who do not, the challenge for wireless providers is to provide contact channels that can offer an informative and efficient experience for their customers."
T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless rank highest in a tie among the five largest wireless service providers in creating a positive experience for customers who contact their provider for service or assistance. Both providers perform particularly well across all factors, especially in the areas of customer service representatives, hold times and resolving inquiries with one contact. ALLTEL follows T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless in the rankings.
The study also finds several key wireless customer care patterns:
- The average number of contacts to resolve an inquiry by phone is 1.76 -- a decrease from 1.94 from Volume 1 of the study, which was released in January.
- Among customers who contact their provider, 74 percent do so by telephone and 22 percent do so through their provider's retail store. E-mail/Internet contacts account for just 4 percent of customer contacts.
- The average initial reported hold time on calls to the customer service department is 3.59 minutes -- an increase from 3.44 minutes in 2005. In comparison, it takes an average of more than 8 minutes before speaking to a representative at one of the provider's retail stores.
- Nearly one-half of customers (45%) contact their provider with a service inquiry that is billing related, and 51 percent of these contacts can be attributed to incorrect charges. An additional 31 percent of all customer care inquiries are call-quality related.
The 2006 Wireless Customer Care Performance Study-Volume 2 is based on responses from more than 11,430 wireless customers who contacted customer care within the past year."
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