Overall customer satisfaction with US wireless service providers has increased significantly from 2005 as customers react to new service offerings and aggressive pricing strategies, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 U.S. Wireless Regional Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Study. The study measures customer satisfaction based on 42 specific service-related measures grouped into six key factors that impact overall wireless carrier performance. They are (in order of importance): call performance and reliability (26%); customer service (17%); service plan options (17%); brand image (14%); cost of service (14%); and billing (12%). Carriers are ranked across six regions in the United States: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West.
Over the past three-year period, overall satisfaction has fluctuated significantly as changes in the industry, such as the recent carrier mergers, have influenced the customer experience. The study finds satisfaction has improved 3 percent from 2005, with particular improvements in the areas where the industry has been aggressively marketing new services and offering more attractive pricing options. For example, the service plan options and cost of service factors receive the largest increase in satisfaction ratings from 2005.
“It’s encouraging to see that industry-wide service improvements, especially expanded service offerings and aggressive service plan pricing have resulted in more positive overall wireless service experiences,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. “However, consumer expectations will continue to rise as cell phone users increasingly rely on the communication functions of their cell phones beyond voice calling.”
T-Mobile ranks highest in all six regions (including five ties), performing particularly well in service plan options, cost of service and billing.
Verizon Wireless ranks highest in ties in five regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central and West. Verizon Wireless’s main strengths are in the areas of call quality and brand image dimensions.
U.S. Cellular ranks highest in a tie with Verizon and T-Mobile in the North Central region.
Study results by region are:
Northeast Region: T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless rank highest in a tie. T-Mobile performs particularly well in the areas of customer service, service plan options, cost of service and billing. Verizon Wireless receives strong ratings in call quality.
Mid-Atlantic Region: Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile rank highest in a tie. Verizon Wireless receives the highest ratings from customers in call quality and brand image. T-Mobile performs particularly well in the cost of service factor.
Southeast Region: T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless rank highest in a tie. T-Mobile performs well in service plan options, cost of service and billing. Verizon Wireless performs well in the area of call quality.
North Central Region: T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless each rank highest in customer satisfaction in a three-way tie in the most competitive region included in the study. T-Mobile receives the highest ratings from customers in cost of service, service plan options and billing, while both U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless perform particularly well in call quality.
Southwest Region: T-Mobile ranks highest with strong ratings in customer service, service plan options, cost of service and billing.
West Region: T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless rank highest in a tie. T-Mobile performs particularly well in cost of service and Verizon Wireless performs well in call quality.