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T-Mobile Ranks Highest in Wireless Retail Sales Satisfaction

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Customer Satisfaction with the Wireless Retail Sales Experience Decreases Due to Issues with Product Information and Promotional Incentives, Says J.D. Power and Associates

Overall customer satisfaction with the wireless retail sales experience has steadily decreased since 2006, driven in large part by dissatisfaction with product information and promotional incentives, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Wireless Retail Sales Satisfaction Study(SM)-Volume 1 released today.

Now in its fifth year, the semi-annual study analyzes evaluations from customers who recently had a wireless retail sales experience. Overall customer satisfaction with major wireless carrier-branded stores is based on four factors. In order of importance, they are: sales staff (51%); store display (17%); store facility (16%); and price/promotion (16%).

The study finds that overall satisfaction with the wireless retail sales experience has reached its lowest level since 2005, and has declined to 699 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2008 — down 10 points from the last reporting period (Volume 2 released in October 2007) and down 17 points since May 2007.

“Changes in the wireless service industry, such as an increase in the number of new products and services, have made it difficult for carriers to maintain the same level of customer satisfaction since the inaugural study in 2004,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. “Overall customer satisfaction with retail service has steadily declined as wireless service becomes increasingly widespread, and as products and services have evolved in complexity.”

The study also finds that while scores have declined in all four factors driving overall satisfaction, the most notable decreases occur in the store display and price/promotion factors. Customers are particularly dissatisfied with the rebates offered on phones and accessories, and with the availability of product and service information.

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“Within the past year, there have been a number of new product and service plan innovations where, in most cases, consumers need to be re-educated in terms of usage and price plan information,” said Parsons. “The information and materials used to explain these new services need to be readily available and easy to understand in order for wireless carriers to meet and exceed customer expectations. Additionally, as providers match each other on price, they are using rebates and promotional offers to build traffic to their retail outlets. In doing so, it’s important that rebates are received quickly and without any surprises.”

T-Mobile ranks highest in customer satisfaction among major wireless carrier-owned retail stores with a score of 716, performing particularly well in the sales staff and store display factors. Alltel (714) and Verizon Wireless (706), respectively, follow T-Mobile in the rankings.

The study also finds the following key retail wireless sales transaction patterns:

  • The average wireless retail sales transaction takes approximately 56 minutes to complete from the time the customer enters the store to the time the final paperwork is finished and the cell phone is received –down nearly four minutes from the last reporting period.
  • Among customers who visited a retail store in the past six months, more than 60 percent did so to purchase a new cell phone, while 65 percent upgraded or replaced an existing phone. Additionally, 11 percent of customers visited a wireless retail store to sign up for new service for the first time, marking a 4 percent decline from six months ago.
  • Retail satisfaction is 15 percent lower among customers who report they were pressured during the sales process. The average overall satisfaction rating among customers who report experiencing no sales pressure is 721, compared with an average of just 610 among those who say they were pressured.

Volume 1 of the 2008 Wireless Retail Sales Satisfaction Study is based on experiences reported by 6,634 wireless customers who completed a retail sales transaction within the past six months. The results are from the two most recent reporting waves, which were conducted in September 2007 and January 2008. Visit JDPower.com to view customer satisfaction ratings for wireless service and carrier performance, call quality, customer care, retail sales and mobile phone handsets.

Overall Retail Sales Index Rankings (Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Carrier Index Score J.D. Power.com Power Circle Ratings For Consumers
T-Mobile 716 5
Alltel 714 5
Verizon Wireless 706 4
Industry Average 699 3
AT&T 693 3
Sprint Nextel 654 2

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction. The firm’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies NYSE: MHP is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor’s, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2007 were $6.8 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.

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