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T-Mobile & Sprint See Higher Customer Satisfaction

T-Mobile and Sprint made big gains in customer satisfaction in the past year, while Apple eased past Samsung in consumer handset satisfaction, the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) found.

The consumer survey also found that overall customer satisfaction with carriers, including MVNOs, ticked up 1.4 points to 71 out of 100 points, while satisfaction with cellphones rose 1.3 points to 79.

T-Mobile posts a 6-point increase to 74 for the highest score among the four national carriers, though Sprint was most improved after rising 8 points to 70. AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless were ties at 71, with AT&T posting a small rise, ASCI said.

The highest customer satisfaction was enjoyed by smaller carriers and MVNOs with a combined score of 77. Prepaid phone provider TracFone Wireless slipped 3 points to 75 but remained on top.

 “Now that contracts are becoming a historical relic, wireless companies are doing more to attract and retain customers in an environment where switching from one provider to another has never been easier,” said ACSI managing director David VanAmburg. “The challenge for wireless carriers is finding a balance between cutting prices to attract new customers and investing in faster, more reliable network infrastructure to keep them.”

Vendors: Among handset suppliers, Apple gained 1 point to reach the top with a score of 81. Samsung retained a score of 80 to move to second place. Motorola slid 3 points to 77, followed by HTC, which dropped 3 points to 75. Next came LG and Microsoft Mobile, including Microsoft’s Nokia- and Lumia-branded phones, at 74.

When it comes to smartphones, ASCI also found, bigger is better. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 phablet ranked at the top in satisfaction with a score of 86, beating Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus at 85. The largest-screen iPhones do better than the smaller models of the same generation, ASCI found. Almost all of the top-rated smartphones in the study are made by Apple or Samsung, with Motorola’s Moto G as the lone exception, the company noted.

“The cellphone market has been reduced to a two-horse race between Apple and Samsung, with everyone else fighting for scraps,” VanAmburg said. “Although some other smartphones get solid reviews from media, none have received the high marks that customers give Apple and Samsung.”

The full report is available for free download here.

For its survey, ASCI surveyed 12,710 consumers contacted via mail in the first quarter about their experiences with five types of telecom companies: cellular phone service, cellphone suppliers, fixed-line phone service, Internet service providers, and subscription television services. Consumers were asked to evaluate their recent experiences with the largest telecommunications service providers and phone manufacturers in terms of market share, plus smaller companies in an aggregate category consisting of “all other.”