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J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Interaction With Agents May Significantly Elevate Satisfaction With the Wireless Customer Care Experience

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. Feb. 3, 2011

Now in its ninth year, the semiannual study provides a detailed report card on how well wireless carriers service their customers in three contact methods: telephone calls with customer service representatives (CSR) and/or automated response systems (ARS); visits to a retail wireless store; and on the Web. Within each contact method, the study measures satisfaction and processing issues, such as problem-resolution efficiency and hold-time duration.

Overall, among customers who speak with a service representative without going through an automated response system, the customer care index score averages 774 on a 1,000-point scale, well above the industry average score of 739. Among customers who use other methods of contact, satisfaction is considerably lower:

Overall Customer Care Index Scores Based on Contact Method

(on a 1,000-point scale)

Contact method

Index score

Telephone call with customer service representative


Industry average


Retail store


Automated response system*


Web-based contact


*Includes ARS/CSR and ARS only channels

The study finds that one of the main factors contributing to this performance disparity is the quality of the response provided. A service representative—either over the phone or in person—can answer both initial and follow-up questions from customers and clarify answers.  This kind of flexibility is very limited in both ARS and Web-based contacts.

Kirk Parsons

The majority (51%) of telephone contacts are resolved primarily via a service representative. The study also finds that customers are most satisfied with their experience when they can reach a customer service representative quickly and spend only a brief period of time using automated systems to resolve their problem.

"While customers tend to be more satisfied when they can reach a service representative quickly, heavy reliance on live representatives is much more costly for wireless carriers," said Parsons. "If wireless carriers can drive improvements in satisfaction with non-human interaction channels, overall customer care performance scores will improve dramatically by making the process more intuitive and efficient, and likely so in a much more cost-effective manner."

wireless customer care performance

The study also finds several key wireless customer care patterns:

  • Overall, 36 percent of wireless customers contact their carrier due to service and equipment-related issues, while 32 percent contact for general billing issues; 28 percent for incorrect charges; 23 percent for call quality; and 21 percent for price or cost.
  • Wireless customers who indicate that they have had a positive care experience are more loyal and are, therefore, less likely to switch carriers in the future, on average. Among customers who indicate they "definitely will not switch" carriers in the next 12 months, customer care index scores average 810, compared with just 566 among those who say they "definitely will switch"—a difference of 244 points.
  • Although the vast majority (88%) of customers get through to their carrier on their first try, 12% of customers are misdirected or put on hold for too long and must make more than one contact. The average wireless customer spends 6.24 minutes on hold when trying to reach their carrier via phone—a substantial increase from 5.27 minutes just six months ago.

December 2010

view wireless customer care ratings

Overall Customer Care Index Rankings

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)


Index score Power Circle Ratings
For Consumers




Verizon Wireless



Industry Average



Sprint Nextel






About J.D. Power and Associates

Westlake Village, Calif. car reviews and ratings car insurance health insurance cell phone ratings

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

$6.2 billion

J.D. Power and Associates Media Relations Contacts:

John Tews Troy, Mich. [email protected]

Westlake Village, Calif. [email protected]

SOURCE J.D. Power and Associates

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