Verizon, Sprint Post Customer-Satisfaction Gains, Rivals Slip

Sprint has seen a gradual but sustained trend toward improving business outcomes over the past three years, while T-Mobile slipped modestly in the past year.

Verizon's customer-satisfaction and loyalty ratings have improved sharply, with the company posting a 13-point gain in overall customer satisfaction and a six-point increase in the percentage of customers who would buy another Verizon phone if given the chance, according to the findings of a new survey conducted by customer-feedback specialist Vocalabs.

Sprint has seen a gradual but sustained trend toward improving business outcomes in the past three years while T-Mobile slipped modestly in the past year, according to the study, which was based on a poll of 9,195 consumers from July 2009 to December 2012. Fifty-five percent of the T-Mobile customers surveyed said they were "very satisfied" with the service they received in 2012, down from 64 percent in 2010.

AT&T saw its call satisfaction drop by six points in the past two years, but the company showed a one-year improvement in interactive voice response (IVR) satisfaction. T-Mobile lost nine points in call satisfaction from 2010 to 2012, and six points of IVR satisfaction from 2011 to 2012, the report found.

Verizon posted significant gains from 2011 to 2012, increasing the percentage of customers very satisfied with the call by 10 points, as well as posting a 10-point gain in the percentage of customers who are very satisfied with the automated part of the call.

Call factors, which measure specific aspects of a customer-service call that are important in forming a customer's opinion of the overall experience help reflect common problems in customer-service operations. AT&T and Sprint were generally unchanged in these metrics in the past year, whereas T-Mobile made it harder to reach a person over the past two years and Verizon made it easier.

"Customers in our survey also reported having to go through more repetitive steps in customer-service calls at T-Mobile. We also found that the percentage of Verizon customers reporting that their problem was resolved during their call has improved eight points from 2010 to 2012," the report noted. "This may be driving some of the impressive gains in call satisfaction at Verizon, since resolution is a significant driver of overall customer satisfaction with the customer service experience."

The National Customer Service Survey is a continuation of Vocalabs' ongoing research. Vocalabs has been publishing syndicated industry research on phone-based customer service quality since 2004. The survey compares the customer service quality for different companies in the same industry, using survey data and call statistics from the companies' customers. As part of this ongoing research, we interview customers of competing companies immediately after a customer service call. The author of the report, Peter Leppik, is also president and CEO of Vocalabs.