In This Issue
We released the latest results for the National Customer Service Survey (NCSS) on Mobile Phone Customer Service this month. This is an ongoing survey where we interview customers of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon immediately after a customer service call. Our data goes back to 2009, and through the end of 2011 we had completed over 8,000 interviews of customers of these four companies.
At the end of 2011, AT&T led in most of our key service-related metrics, including Call Satisfaction, Agent Satisfaction, and Call Resolution. This is a significant shift from the end of 2010, when Sprint was ahead or tied for the lead in most categories.
AT&T did post some modest improvements in 2011, but the main reason for the shift was the dramatic declines at Sprint and T-Mobile. T-Mobile may have been distracted by its failed merger with AT&T, and we speculate that this caused the company to lose focus on the day-to-day execution of its service strategy.
Sprint's drop was more surprising, coming as it did on the heels of tremendous improvement in 2010. We don't know what's going on at Sprint, but speculate that they may have shifted their focus to other areas after their push to improve customer service in 2010. Unfortunately, customer service is not one of those areas which stays "fixed"--it requires constant attention and effort to maintain at the best possible level.
We also released NCSS results for technical support for the second half of 2011 (July through December). In this industry our survey data extends back to 2008 and includes nearly 5,000 interviews with customers of Apple, Dell, and HP immediately after a technical support call.
We've been tracking a gradual decline in Apple's service metrics since the second half of 2010, with customers reporting more problems with the automated part of the call, lower satisfaction with the service in general, and reduced resolution rates. Despite this decline, Apple started well ahead of its competition, and remains ahead in key metrics like Call Satisfaction and Agent Satisfaction. When we began collecting this service data, Apple was far and away the leader. Now the company is merely ahead of its competition.
In this report we also took a closer look at the open-ended complaints we get from customers and tallied how often customers of each company volunteered common complaints. In complaints about language skills of the tech support representative and complaints about the extra cost of out-of-warranty support, Apple had a fraction of the complaints of either Dell or HP. Since we did not systematically ask about either of these issues, these statistics need to be treated with some care; nevertheless, it is very suggestive of the kinds of issues which are top-of-mind with customers.