Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times

Issue
65

2012 NCSS Data Released

In This Issue


NCSS Results for Mobile Phones (2012)

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We released the latest results for the National Customer Service Survey (NCSS) on Mobile Phone Customer Service this month. We have been interviewing customers of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon immediately after a customer service call since mid-2009. This report is based on 9,195 interviews of customers of the four companies over that period.

The most dramatic change in 2012 from 2011 is the significant improvement in the customer service metrics at Verizon. The company gained ten points in overall call satisfaction over the past year, as well as significant improvements in IVR satisfaction, call resolution, and ease of reaching a person.

Historically in our survey, Verizon has consistently posted the top scores for agent satisfaction, while underperforming on IVR satisfaction and ease of reaching a person. With this position, it makes sense for Verizon to improve its IVR to make it easier for customers to reach an agent when needed. This plays to the company's strength of having the best customer service representatives in the industry.

We also saw a continuation of T-Mobile's gradual drop in customer service-related metrics in 2012, with call satisfaction dropping, and customers in our survey reporting that it was harder to reach a person and they had to jump through more hoops to get what they needed on the call.

Sprint's business metrics have been on a gradual upward trend since 2009, and that continued into 2012; however, the company's customer service related scores have not changed significantly in our survey in 2012 as compared to 2011. In our executive summary we take a closer look at the ups and downs of Sprint's customer service over the past several years.


NCSS Results for Banks (2012)

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We also released NCSS results for Banks, covering 2011 to 2012. We began collecting customer interviews about Bank of America, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo in April 2011, and this report is based on 2,980 interviews collected during the period from April 2011 through December 2012.

Over the past year we observed a general improvement in our survey scores across the industry. None of our nine key metrics dropped by more than one percentage point at any of the four companies. Chase and Citi posted the largest improvements, while scores at Bank of America and Wells Fargo increased by a more modest amount. Since Bank of America and Wells Fargo were ahead on customer service in 2011, the net effect of this was to tighten the race for best service.

Customer authentication in the automated part of the call is a pain point for many of the customers we interviewed in our survey. At each of the four companies, between 2.1% and 4.3% of all customers reported that they had a problem getting past the point in the call where the IVR asked them for an account number or PIN. This represents a surprisingly large percentage of the overall call volume, and since we don't specifically ask about authentication problems, it's likely a lot of customers are having problems who didn't report them on our survey.

What's more, many of the problems customers reported should have been anticipated. We saw many customers calling to report lost or stolen cards who were asked to enter their account numbers--a situation where it's reasonable to expect that the customer might not have an account number handy. We even had one report of a frustrated customer who was asked to enter an account number just to get the hours of the local bank branch.

I applaud the improvements the banking industry made in 2012, especially given than banks do not, in general, have a reputation for stellar service. There is still a lot more room for improvement, and a lot of it boils down to paying careful attention to what customers want and the best way to serve them.

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