Telecom customers less than satisfied
Mobile phone users increasingly kept on hold.
Mobile phone customers who call their provider when experiencing a problem are having to wait on hold longer than in the past to speak with a service representative, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Wireless Customer Care Performance Study which is based on the US market experience.
Now in its sixth year, the half yearly study reports on wireless carrier customer care service in three areas: telephone calls with a service representative and/or automated response system (ARS); visits to a retail wireless store; and via the internet. Within each contact method, processing issues such as problem resolution efficiency and hold-time duration are also measured.
The study finds that the average amount of time wireless customers spend on hold before speaking with a customer service representative in 2008 is 4.4 minutes—up 34 percent from the average hold time in 2003 (3.3 minutes).
“As customers try new and increasingly complex wireless phone services and products—such as playing MP3 files, capturing still pictures or video or downloading ring tones—they are more likely to call their provider for support,” says Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at JD Power and Associates.
Customer care centers and service representatives are under pressure to handle the increase in inquiries, while still trying to understand and resolve the customer’s issue on the initial contact. This can potentially increase the number of transfers and the hold times for customers. With an increase in hold times, providers run the risk of decreasing customer satisfaction and losing customers to other providers, as switching levels are 83 percent higher among customers who are put on hold, compared with those who are not.
49 percent of wireless customers have contacted the customer care service center for assistance within the past year—an increase from 47 percent reported six months ago. Additionally, among customers who contacted the service department, 34 percent did so due to service/equipment issues.
Verizon Wireless ranks highest in wireless customer care performance with an index score of 103, followed by Alltel (102), T-Mobile (100) and AT&T (97). Specifically, customers report that Verizon Wireless performs particularly well in resolving problems in one contact.
“The fact that Verizon Wireless performs well in resolving issues with one contact is particularly noteworthy,” says Parsons. “Overall customer care performance is three times higher among customers whose issues were resolved in one contact over the phone, compared with those who had to contact their provider more than once for the same issue.”
The study also finds several key wireless customer care patterns:
* Among customers who contact their provider, 75% do so by telephone while 24% do so by visiting their provider’s retail store. Email/internet interactions account for only 1 percent of customer contacts.
* The average number of reported phone contacts needed to resolve a customer inquiry is 1.76, down from 1.91 contacts in the last reporting period.
* Customers who visit the provider’s retail store for service inquiries report waiting an average of seven minutes before speaking with a representative.