By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Overall customer satisfaction with the retail experience at carrier-branded stores in early 2008 hit its lowest level since 2005, largely because store collateral and salespeople haven't been able to keep up with changing products and service plans, J.D. Power and Associates found.
In its 2008 Wireless Retail Sales Satisfaction Study, the company also found consumers dissatisfied with the carrier practice of offering rebates on cellphones. "The dissatisfaction with rebates is mainly centered around the form and length of time it takes to get the actual discount," a spokesman said.
T-Mobile stores ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction, followed by Alltel, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and Sprint Nextel, in that order.
"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, wireless services senior director. "Overall customer satisfaction with retail service has steadily declined as wireless service becomes increasingly widespread, and as products and services have evolved in complexity."
Scores decreased in all four categories in which the company measures satisfaction, but the most notable decreases occurred in the display and price/promotion categories, the company said.
"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."
The latest study found overall satisfaction declined to 699 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2008, down 10 points from the October 2007 report and down 17 points since May 2007. T-Mobile scored 716 points. Alltel racked up 714 points, followed by Verizon's 706.
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