Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times


In This Issue

NCSS Results for Mobile Phone Customer Service (Q4 2010)

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Results for the National Customer Service Survey of mobile phone customer service are in. We measure the performance of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon on a quarterly basis, and our data set goes back to July 2009.

The big news is that over the past five quarters, Sprint has gone from having the lowest to the highest scores for customer satisfaction and other key metrics. At the same time, Verizon went from the top of the heap to the bottom. These changes are statistically significant, and the trends were sustained over several quarters. In other words, this is not a statistical blip.

During the same period from Q4 of 2009 to Q4 of 2010, AT&T and T-Mobile mostly just treaded water: there were few significant trend at those companies.

We can't really speculate on what each company did behind the scenes to drive these changes, but clearly Sprint was doing something right over the past year. We saw significant improvements in several of the call factors we track: a seven-point improvement in ease of reaching an agent, a 12-point reduction in callers who complained about repetitive or irrelevant steps on the call, and a 9-point improvement in first call resolution.

As you would expect, these led to improvements in Sprint's business metrics. 10% more customers said they were "Very Satisfied" with Sprint than a year before, 8% more said they would subscribe again to Sprint, and the percentage of customers who would recommend Sprint shot up a whopping 13 points.

Paying attention to customer service can pay big dividends, and the proof is in the numbers.

NCSS Results for Technical Support (2H 2010)

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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 data goes back to the second half of 2009.

The trends in this industry were not as dramatic as in the mobile phone industry, but we did see some changes at Apple. In the first half of 2010, Apple improved significantly across several major metrics but gave back these gains in the second half of the year, ending about where it was in the second half of 2009. We also noted that Apple has seen a trend towards more customers experiencing common "nuisance factors" on their tech support calls; while Dell has been reducing these problems.

Here, too, we can't speculate on the reason for this up-and-down trend. It could be a statistical blip. In 2010, Apple introduced the iPad around the middle of the year, and it could be that this major new product rollout drove Apple's support levels.

Apple has a well-earned reputation for top notch customer service, and our Tech Support survey has consistently borne this out. We will be watching the data closely in the first half of 2011, to see whether the trends are sustained or reversed and whether Apple maintains its position on top of the heap.

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