AT&T ranked as the best-performing major U.S. carrier in J.D. Power's latest customer care report, edging out T-Mobile.
The market research firm measured carriers' customer care performance in several areas: on the phone through automated response systems and service representatives; walk-in visits at retail stores; and online through carriers' websites, social media and chat. AT&T performed particularly well in the online and retail channels, J.D. Power said, and scored above average in all four service channels.
AT&T earned a score of 820 on a 1,000-point scale, while T-Mobile was a close second with 815. Verizon earned a score of 797, and Sprint finished last among the tier-one operators with a 750 score.
AT&T was quick to crow about J.D. Power's latest findings, issuing a press release touting the results.
Consumer Cellular was the top-ranked non-contract service provider with a score of 878, J.D. Power said, followed by Cricket and Boost Mobile. Net10 was the lowest-ranked of eight non-contract providers.
Interestingly, wireless customers are increasingly looking to online alternatives to receive customer care from their carriers. Forty-seven percent of users who had a customer service contract during the previous three months used the web, up from 42 percent just six months ago.
Meanwhile, 53 percent of customers of the four major carriers had a walk-in service contact, up from 49 percent during the previous six-month period. Forty-two percent used an automated response system, then talked directly to a representative. Nearly three-fourths of respondents who contacted their carrier online did so using a smartphone or tablet.
"Given the number of dedicated contact channels available, the self-service channels generate the largest increases in contact volume over time and represent a growing trend among customers who prefer that experience vs. more in-person contact," said Kirk Parsons, J.D. Power's senior director and technology, media & telecom practice leader, in a statement. "As customer care usage patterns continue to change, it's important for wireless carriers to meet or exceed the service expectations of the growing self-service channels and the different platforms and devices that can access customer information and help assist when problems arise, which can lead to increased satisfaction and future loyalty."
- see J.D. Power's press release