Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times


In This Issue:

SectorPulse Mobile Phones

By Peter Leppik

We recently announced the results of our eighth quarterly SectorPulse study of mobile phone companies, and the big news is that Cingular has moved up to being on a par with Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, our historical front runners.

We've now been doing SectorPulse reports on the mobile phone industry long enough to start seeing some long-term trends. Two of them are worth taking particular note of.

Automation History

First, the overall automation rate in the industry has been gradually, but inexorably, creeping upwards. 15 months ago, 41% of calls were automated across all the companies we track. This quarter, that figure was 49%, a gain which is statistically significant. Every single company except Verizon Wireless increased the percentage of callers handled through self-service, and the industry trend is clearly visible on the graph.

The other notable trend is towards improving customer satisfaction. This trend isn't as obvious on the graph as the increasing automation trend, since it gets hidden behind the variation of satisfaction at individual companies, but it is there and it is statistically significant over the past two years.

Letter grades are based on a company's relative ranking as compared to all companies in VocaLabs' historical benchmark database, and range from A to D. Companies in the top quartile earn an "A," the next quartile earn a "B," and so forth. Letter grades for the five companies were as follows:

Satisfaction History

  • AT&T Wireless earned a "C" in Caller Satisfaction, unchanged from our last report, and a "D" in Call Completion, down from a "C" last quarter.
  • Cingular earned a "B" in both Caller Satisfaction and Call Completion, up from a "B" in Satisfaction and a "C" in Completion
  • SprintPCS scored a "C" in Caller Satisfaction and a "D" in Call Completion, both unchanged from the last report.
  • T-Mobile earned a "B" in both Caller Satisfaction and Call Completion, unchanged from three months ago.
  • Verizon Wireless earned an "A" in Caller Satisfaction, unchanged from the last report, and a "B" in Call Completion, up from a "C."

We are still tracking the legacy AT&T Wireless customer service separately from Cingular customer service, since study participants are still reporting significantly different service levels. We expect to combine the data and begin tracking just Cingular in a future report. If we had combined data for the two entities, Cingular would have earned a "B" for Caller Satisfaction and a "C" for Call Completion.

SectorPulse Financial Services

By Peter Leppik

This is the second time we have examined the financial services industry. In the first report, six months ago, we looked at four large traditional banks: Bank of America, Citibank, Washington Mutual, and Wells Fargo.

In this report, rather than tracking the same four companies, we compared the online payment service PayPal to two major financial institutions, Bank of America and Washington Mutual. We also collected some data on Wells Fargo and Citibank, but not enough to calculate meaningful statistics for those two companies.

Washington Mutual posted the best results of the four companies, improving dramatically to an "A" in Caller Satisfaction from a "C" six months ago. However, the company earned only a "D" in Call Completion, the same grade as our last report.

PayPal and Bank of America earned the same grades: a "C" in Caller Satisfaction, and a "D" in Call Completion. For Bank of America, these were the same grades the company earned in our prior report.

It is also worth noting that Wells Fargo showed a dramatic improvement in Caller Satisfaction from our earlier report. Even though we did not gather enough data on the company to issue a letter grade, the improvement was statistically significant.

In future reports on the financial services industry, we plan to expand the number of companies included, and issue reports on a regular basis. We intend to continue gathering data on PayPal, as an example of a nontraditional financial services company which offers at least some services which may compete against traditional banks.

SectorPulse Airlines

By Peter Leppik

In our fourth report on the quality of customer service at different airlines, Southwest came out on top of the five companies we examined. Southwest earned an "A" for Caller Satisfaction, and a "C" for Call Completion, down from a "B" in Call Completion in our last report six months ago. Southwest's letter grade doesn't do justice to the company's performance: its satisfaction score was in the 95th percentile of all companies we've studied.

Other results from this report were:

  • American earned a "B" for Caller Satisfaction, unchanged from our prior report, and a "C" for Call Completion, down from a "B."
  • Delta's Caller Satisfaction grade was unchanged at a "C", and improved one grade in Call Completion to a "B"
  • Northwest scored an "A" for Caller Satisfaction, up from a "B" six months ago, and was unchanged at a "B" for Call Completion.
  • United's "B" in Caller Satisfaction was unchanged, but the company dropped two grades in Call Completion to earn a "C."


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