Smartphone Owners More Satsifaction & Visits, T-Mobile Most Satisfying, Says J.D. Power


The J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S.
Wireless Retail Sales Satisfaction Study-Volume 1 shows how smartphones have effected wireless retailers customer service.

T-Mobile ranks highest in customer satisfaction
among major wireless carrier-owned retail stores for a second
consecutive time with a score of 723, performing particularly well with
regard to quality of sales staff and price and promotions. Verizon
Wireless (722) closely follows T-Mobile in the rankings.

Nearly 40 percent of
customers who visited a wireless retail store in the past six months to
replace or upgrade a phone from a previous carrier, switch carriers or
sign up for wireless service for the first time now own smartphones.

The study finds that satisfaction with the retail experience among
smartphone owners averages 11 index points higher (on a 1,000-point
scale) than that of traditional wireless handset owners (727 vs. 716,
on average), despite the fact that smartphones require additional
service plan options and are more complex to operate. Smartphone owners
are more satisfied than traditional handset owners in all factors,
particularly with regard to the sales staff

The study finds
that owners of smartphones are 27 percent more likely to visit their
carrier's retail facility to inquire about a problem with their phone
than are those with traditional handsets. In addition, smartphone users
are 18 percent more likely to inquire about having their phone
repaired, compared with owners of traditional mobile phones.

study also finds that smartphone owners spend an average of more than
one hour in the store during the sales experience, which is four
minutes longer than owners of traditional phones. Smartphones require
retailers to spend significantly more time carrying out tasks such as
activating the phone. Sales representatives spend about one minute
longer carrying out value-add tasks with smartphone owners, such as
showing them how to operate the phone, than owners of traditional

Among customers who are highly satisfied
(scores of 8 or more points on a 10-point scale) with the knowledge of
a salesperson, 92 percent say they plan to revisit the retail store,
compared with just 70 percent of those who are less satisfied.
Similarly, 91 percent of highly satisfied customers say they will
recommend the store, while just 62 percent of less-satisfied customers
say the same.

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

  • Seventy-one
    percent of customers report that a sales representative explained data
    plan offerings during their most recent visit. In addition, more than
    one-third of customers report having discussed 3G coverage with a
  • Displaying basic courtesies, such as acting
    in a straightforward and honest manner, remain critical for sales
    representatives. Satisfaction is 204 index points higher when
    representatives are perceived as straightforward and honest than when
    they are not.
  • Nearly one-half (46%) of wireless customers visit
    their retailer to upgrade or replace a phone from their current
    carrier. However, satisfaction is highest when retail store visits are
    to add or subtract a family member (732) or to renew or change a
    service plan (727).

"The increase in
smartphone sales will have a long-term impact on how carriers handle
their customers' needs," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless
services at J.D. Power and Associates. "These phones do require
retailers to adapt by constantly training sales staff to keep pace with
new features and offerings, but carrying out simple tasks, such as
explaining the phone's operation, provides salespeople with a great
opportunity to optimize the customer's wireless experience and fosters
greater loyalty to both the carrier and store."

"In general, wireless carriers are succeeding in
adapting to the quickly evolving landscape by ensuring their sales
representatives are highly knowledgeable about newer offerings such as
smartphones and the high-speed data plans they utilize," said Parsons.
"As consumers continue to take advantage of the latest technology, it
is crucial for sales staff to be knowledgeable about all phone models
and service plans available and to continue to display a high level of
courtesy and honesty during the sales process to ensure satisfaction
levels improve."

Now in its seventh year, the semiannual study analyzes evaluations from customers who recently had an in-store 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 (49%); price and promotion (27%);
store facility (14%); and display (10%).

The 2010 U.S. Wireless Retail Sales
Satisfaction Study-Volume 1 is based on experiences reported by 8,000
wireless customers who completed a retail sales transaction within the
past six months. The study was fielded between July and December 2009.
For more information on customer satisfaction with wireless service, wireless retail sales, cell phone handsets, customer care, prepaid wireless service and business wireless service, please visit