T-Mobile ranks highest in all six regions (including three ties) of wireless service, performing particularly well in customer care, cost of service and billing, according to J.D. Power and Associates. It's the fifth consecutive reporting period that the company has ranked highest across all six regions.
Verizon Wireless ties for the highest ranking in three regions: Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and North Central. Overall, the provider performs particularly well in call quality and brand image.
Alltel ranks highest in a tie in the Southeast Region, while U.S. Cellular and AT&T (formerly Cingular Wireless) tie for the highest ranking in the North Central region.
Study results by region are:
• Northeast Region: T-Mobile ranks highest, performing particularly well in service plan options, customer service, cost of service and billing.
• Mid-Atlantic Region: T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless rank highest in a tie. T-Mobile performs well in cost of service, service plan options and customer care, while Verizon Wireless receives high ratings from customers in call quality and brand image.
• Southeast Region: Alltel, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless rank highest in a three-way tie. Alltel performs well in billing, while T-Mobile receives high ratings in cost of service, service plan options and billing, and Verizon Wireless performs well in the call quality and brand image factors.
• North Central Region: AT&T; (formerly Cingular Wireless), T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless tie to rank highest in customer satisfaction in the most competitive region in the study. AT&T; performs above the regional average in cost of service, call quality and billing. T-Mobile receives high ratings from customers in cost of service and billing, while both U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless perform particularly well in call quality and customer care.
• Southwest Region: T-Mobile ranks highest with strong performances in five of the six factors that determine overall satisfaction: customer service, service plan options, cost of service, brand image and billing.
• West Region: T-Mobile ranks highest, performing particularly well in billing, service plan options, customer care and cost of service. As usage continuously increases and the number of new data-centric service offerings grow, call performance and network reliability are becoming more critical to wireless customers demanding consistent quality connections, according to the study.
The semiannual study measures customer satisfaction based on 42 specific service-related measures grouped into six key factors that impact overall wireless carrier performance. In order of importance, they are:
• call performance and reliability (32%);
• brand image (17%);
• cost of service (14%);
• service plan options (14%); billing (12%) and
• customer service (11%).
Carriers are ranked across six regions in the United States: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central, Southwest and West.
The study finds that the call performance and reliability factor has increased in importance from 26 percent of the overall satisfaction score in 2005 to 32 percent in 2007. Specifically, call quality issues such as echoes and timely notification of voice mail messages have received the most significant increase in importance.
Subsequently, the customer service factor has become less critical in determining overall wireless satisfaction -- declining from 17 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in the 2007 study.
"It's no surprise that more carriers now advertise the importance of a reliable network as they try to differentiate themselves from the competition," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates.
"Wireless network quality is key in distinguishing carriers that meet and exceed the service expectations of their customers from those that do not. However, there is still room for improvement, as 31 percent of customers who contact their carrier with a problem complain of call quality issues, such as a high degree of dropped calls and initial disconnects."