The Apple iPhone ranked highest in customer satisfaction in a new CFI Group report, but AT&T received no such love. CFI found that customers who switch carriers for a device are more likely to be unsatisfied with their service, and AT&T customers without iPhones like the carrier more.
Customer satisfaction with smartphones and with the mobile carriers that
support them are very separate sentiments, concludes a Sept. 30 study from CFI
Group. Nowhere was the discrepancy found to be greater than between the iPhone
and its exclusive operator, AT&T.
In ranking customer satisfaction, CFI-like
J.D. Power and Associates
-found the iPhone to rate higher than any other
smartphone. In a survey of more than 1,000 smartphone owners, 92 percent of iPhone
users responded that they have their "ideal phone." Further, the iPhone
received a satisfaction score of 83 out of 100, while Android-based phones and
the Palm Pre ranked at 77, BlackBerry devices scored a 73, and the Palm Treo
scored a 70. Windows Mobile and Symbian phones fell into the "other" category,
which scored 66.
Among carriers, however, it was T-Mobile and Verizon that came out on top,
scoring a 79 for customer satisfaction, while Sprint trailed behind them with a
74. AT&T customers without iPhones gave the carrier a 73, but those with
iPhones gave it a 69.
"The iPhone has been a double-edged sword for AT&T: Though it has signed
up millions of new customers attracted by the iPhone, many of them may be
dragging down AT&T's satisfaction and public reputation," wrote Doug
Helmreich, program director with CFI Group,
and author of the report with CFI Vice President
a look at the iPhone OS 3.1, please click here.
CFI additionally found
greater dissatisfaction among AT&T customers who switched to the carrier
specifically for the iPhone. And while reporting that no smartphone is a bigger
burden on its network than the iPhone is to AT&T, the researcher
additionally states that "customers who are forced to switch providers are not
predisposed to liking the new carrier."
This may seem like good news for Verizon, which 86 percent of smartphones
users said was their "ideal provider," but it's not offering the most highly
desirable phones. Only 38 percent of Verizon smartphone customers said their
current phone is their "ideal phone." However, it's unclear whether Verizon, if
put in AT&T's position, would continue to rate as well as it has.
"Consumers clearly want to do more with their smartphones, and if you give
it to them they will buy it and use it," said Helmreich in a statement. "The
good news is that there's an opportunity to move customers into smartphones.
The bad news is that nobody really knows if the networks will be able to handle
the stress that will come with data-intensive usage typical of the new wave of
Helmreich continued: "The iPhone has been a cash cow for AT&T, but that
cash comes at a cost in terms of overall satisfaction. In effect, switchers can
be satisfaction saboteurs if they were not already inclined to choose AT&T.
As for Verizon, the scales may tip if customers continue to demand smartphones
that the company fails to supply. Then again, will its network hold up if it
adds network-heavy smartphones? For now, it's an apples to oranges comparison."
CFI found that users purchased
smartphones to, more than anything, browse the Web, send and receive e-mails,
and enjoy applications. When devices were ranked according to their "killer
features," the iPhone ranked highest for playing audio/video and games, but the
Palm Pre ranked highest
for checking and sending e-mail, checking voice mail,
and surfing the Web. The greatest ease of Bluetooth use went to
Android-based phones, which tied the Palm Pre for the top ranking for using
maps and directions.
While the iPhone is the satisfaction leader, Helmreich and Doriot write that
game is not over
," as BlackBerry devices narrow the gap and the Pre and
Android devices gain ground. "If the iPhone were to lose its application
supremacy, that advantage would dwindle even more," the two state in the
report, which is available free at the CFI