AT&T Surprises Verizon in Customer Care Rankings

AT&T has staged a coup of sorts, taking the crown in J.D. Power’s semiannual customer-care rankings, released today. It’s the first time the carrier has been crowned customer-care champ since the global marketing-information services company started tallying results in this category in 2003.

The report is broken down into two sections: the Full-Service Performance Study and the Non-Contract Performance Study.

The average score for full-service operators, on a 1,000 point scale, was 786. AT&T garnered 795 points, performing particularly well in the walk-in and online contact channels and ranks above the full-service average in four of the five service channels. For the second consecutive reporting period, MetroPCS ranks highest in overall wireless customer care satisfaction among non-contract carriers, with an overall score of 770. MetroPCS performs above the non-contract average in the telephone and online channels.

Among the "full-service" operators, Verizon Wireless came in second with 790 points. Sprint scored just 771 points, and T-Mobile got only 760. (T-Mobile just recently did away with service contracts, so it will be interesting to see how that impacts the carrier’s score in future reports.)

More than 7,000 wireless customers were surveyed for the full-service report, and more than 3,000 for the non-contract report.

"The higher levels of satisfaction with online chat are partially due to the efficiency and immediacy of the experience, particularly with service issues or questions that are easier to resolve in this environment, such as billing or service/device questions pertaining to upgrades," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of the telecom services practice at J.D. Power. "However, as carriers release new products and services to meet consumer demand, such automated systems as online chat must continue to evolve to address harder-to-answer questions related to technology support, as customers gain confidence in using alternative contact channels for convenience-related reasons."

Other survey results revealed that nearly one-fifth (17 percent) of full-service customers have used YouTube to resolve a problem regarding their wireless service.

The number of wireless customers using the online channel for their most recent care experience rose from 9 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2013, and those customers, in general, are more pleased with their experience. While satisfaction levels have risen in all three main full-service contact channels, the online channel has improved the most, with a 52-point increase, J.D. Power revealed. That’s due to increasingly innovative online chat functions and technologies that carriers are rolling out to their customers.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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