4G Phones Leading to Higher Levels of Customer Care Support Calls
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 J.D. Power and Associates.
Now in their 10th year, the semiannual studies provide a 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-enabled device -- 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.