Telecoms Grapple with Support Inequality: Carriers Struggle to Offer Effective Service to All Customers

Article excerpt

Maintaining customer satisfaction is no easy task for wireless carriers, but the latest J.D. Power & Associates 2012 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Performance Study says the real challenge is to be consistent with support.

The semiannual study measures the effectiveness of full-service and noncontract carriers in their customer service efforts across telephone, retail, and online channels.

"What it really comes down to is consistency," remarks Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power & Associates. "We look at, 'Does the carrier have the right account information [and a consistent response] if I go into a store and then go back to my office and call the 800 number?'"

Based on the responses of 7,428 wireless full-service customers and 3,026 noncontract customers during the first six months of 2012, the study found that while satisfaction levels for tiered data and pricing plans were lower than for unlimited plans across most customer points of contact, the greatest gap occurred in the telephone channel.

Tiered customers tend to call their wireless carriers more for discrepancies in billing and related charges. On average, they spend a minute longer on hold than unlimited data plan customers. But the challenge is in resolving service calls in a timelier manner and ensuring tiered customers are, at the least, as satisfied with support as unlimited customers.

"A lot of it has to do with the re-education of their customers," Parsons explains. "If you're a customer moving across carriers.it behooves the sales and customer reps to really go over and make the customer understand, 'Here's what one gigabyte of data is applicable to.' They need to do more due diligence on the carrier side to really educate customers about these plans."

Verizon Wireless, which ranked highest among full-service carriers for customer care performance, offered customers a "two for one" deal when it first introduced tiered plans, Parsons says, in which customers could be upgraded to 4GB if they bought 2GB data plans. …