Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times


In This Issue

NCSS Results for Mobile Phone Customer Service (Q2 2011)

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The National Customer Service Survey (NCSS) is a tracking survey conducted by Vocalabs to measure companies' customer service performance using customer interviews conducted immediately after a service experience. We publish the performance of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon on a quarterly basis, and the Mobile Phone data set goes back to July 2009.

After posting big gains in key service metrics in 2010, Sprint's performance in 2011 seems to have leveled out. Scores for Overall Satisfaction, Call Satisfaction, and other metrics are still ahead of where they were 18 months ago at the end of 2009, but are statistically unchanged to down slightly from the end of 2010.

We also saw a significant decline in Call Satisfaction at AT&T during the three months ending June 2011, but this appears to be limited to just the one quarter. Our speculation is that the announcement of the merger with T-Mobile in late March could have led to a spike in calls which AT&T representatives were under-prepared to handle.

The other interesting obervation is that Verizon had a short uptick in its metrics during the first three months of the year. Normally we would chalk up such a thing to a statistical fluke, but we also saw a coincident (and statistically significant) shift in the types of calls in our NCSS sample around the times when Verizon's iPhone was announced and shipped. With an announcement that big, it's possible it could have affected Verizon's call mix enough to show up in our survey sample. In the second quarter, Verizon's numbers returned to something closer to the long-term trendline.

NCSS Results for Technical Support (1H 2011)

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We also released our results for the National Customer Service Survey covering technical support at three major consumer electronics companies: Apple, Dell, and HP. We publish data on this market semiannually, and our complete data set for this vertical goes back to the middle of 2008.

Last time we published on this vertical in January 2011 (covering through the second half of 2010), we noted a trend at Apple towards increasing problems with the self-service part of Apple's support calls. While the company's overall service remains ahead of its competitors, the automation on Apple's tech support calls has been garnering even more complaints over the past six months.

Here, too, we can't speculate on the reason for this negative trend, but when we ask customers in our survey to describe the kind of problems they are experiencing, the majority say that the system didn't understand something they said.

Apple's service still gets very high marks for many other key factors, such as resolution rate, and satisfaction with the agent. But where Dell and HP have been posting some gradual improvements over time, Apple's trends have generally been to the worse. It used to be that Apple was ahead of the pack in service quality; now it's fairer to say that Apple merely leads the pack.

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