By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Two-thirds of wireless subscribers were somewhat or very satisfied with their carrier's service in 2003 and 2004, but they just might be deluding themselves, according to Jupiter Research.
"High satisfaction in the wake of widely acknowledged coverage and quality-of-service flaws" might be attributable to "relatively low customer expectations moderated by operator reputation and pricing and consumer self-selection based on operators perceived to offer good service regionally or locally," the market research company said.
In a subscriber survey conducted in December 2004, Jupiter also found that:
Nextel enjoyed a higher percentage of high-value loyal subscribers than other carriers.
T-Mobile and Sprint subscribers use data services at higher rates than other U.S. carriers.
In its survey, Jupiter determined that T-Mobile enjoyed the highest satisfaction levels, followed by Verizon, Cingular, Nextel, Sprint and a pre-merger AT&T Wireless.
On a scale of one to five, with five as the highest rating, 28 percent of cellular subscribers rated their service a five, while another 40 percent rated it a four. Thirty-eight percent of T-Mobile subscribers, however, gave their carrier a five rating, and another 37 percent gave T-Mobile a four. Only 17 percent of AT&T subscribers gave their carrier a five, although 46 percent gave AT&T a four.
To quantify one measure of customer satisfaction, Jupiter asked subscribers about their plans to churn in the next 12 months and found that only 12 percent of Verizon subscribers were somewhat or very likely to switch and only 16 percent of T-Mobile subscribers were similarly inclined. In contrast, 25 percent of AT&T customers were so inclined.
In another measure of customer satisfaction, Jupiter found Nextel at the top of the heap in attracting high-value loyal subscribers, followed by Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint in that order. A combined AT&T and Cingular were at the bottom. The index is based on seven criteria, including the percentage of subscribers who are somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with their service, average customer life expectancy, revenue per user, average income, data usage and percentage of 18- to 24-year-old users, said to be the most intense voice and data users.
Although some carriers got high satisfaction marks, all could improve select aspects of their operations, Jupiter contended. For example, Sprint could do better with online and phone-based customer care and improve network quality. Nextel and T-Mobile could boost data adoption farther with free trials, flat-rate pricing plans and, for T-Mobile, more data-service promotion.
Data usage, Jupiter also found, is growing. Camera phone use grew to 13 percent of subscribers from 3 percent, while the number of ringtone purchasers almost doubled. The number of subscribers who use text messaging grew to 38 percent of users from 36 percent.
T-Mobile and Sprint subscribers are the heaviest data users, in large part because both carriers' demographics skew young, Jupiter said. Sprint has strongly emphasized data in its marketing with aggressively priced data services, although T-Mobile wasn't, Jupiter said.
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