Why Carriers Don't Care About Customer Service
Verizon has long enjoyed the best customer service ratings among U.S carriers, but its success has less to do with support than you may think.
Several research companies judge and rank the major carriers' customer service efforts each year, but while Verizon still holds the crown, its competitors are catching up, and the rankings of the rest of the field do not measure up with their respective financial success.
For example, J.D. Power still ranks Verizon on top when it comes to customer service, but the American Customer Satisfaction Index, or ACSI, paints a different picture. ACSI puts Sprint, the third-place carrier in the U.S, at top when it comes to customer satisfaction. Meanwhile AT&T, the country's second-place carrier, sits in dead last with a score of 69 out of 100.
The numbers suggest that having the best customer service is not necessarily indicative of subscriber gains and losses. Providing good help certainly counts for something, but in the wireless industry, customers weigh other priorities before they consider how well a company's online chat assistance works, or how nice a representative was to them on the phone.
The first question that comes to mind is "how good is the coverage in my area?" If a carrier's coverage is lacking, then chances are they won't choose it, even if the employees offer free milk and cookies at the local store. So Verizon remains the top carrier, in large part due to its investment in LTE and the widest footprint in the country. And its dominance will remain in place for the near future, especially with its extensive 4G build-out.
Verizon's dominance also gives it a fair amount of leverage among consumers, even as it revamps its pricing and plans. The larger and more powerful a carrier becomes, the greater its ability to make drastic changes that cause its customer base major upheaval, but keep customer satisfaction ratings intact. The company, the critical darling of customer service for years, made two of the most dramatic changes in the history of the wireless industry in the past 18 months.
Verizon was the first to put an end to unlimited data and recently revamped its monthly plans to focus on sharing data, with unlimited calling automatically included. Both moves garnered criticism from analysts, the press and customers, yet the carrier continues to rank number-one in customer surveys and gain subscribers.
Why? The answer is simple. Because Verizon offers the best wireless service in more areas of the country than any other carrier, and in this nation's narrowing field of wireless competition, that's all that really matters.
Sprint is another perennial leader in customer service surveys, and it still offers unlimited data. However, its financial situation is the exact opposite of Verizon's. The carrier is in debt and struggling to hold on to subscribers. Great customer service and unlimited data are nice attributes, but it isn't enough for the carrier to compete with superpowers like Verizon and AT&T because what it really comes down to is the network, and Sprint's just isn't as good as the other guys.
Even T-Mobile, which competes on lower price, can't seem to win with customers. However, it's not necessarily because it doesn't provide half-way decent customer service. Instead, its wireless coverage is poor, lacking a true 4G network and a poor selection of smartphones.
The reality is Verizon ranks number-one on customer service, but there's no real winner in the public eye. People love to complain about their carrier -- it's become something of a national pastime. But the truth remains that carriers are a necessary evil and whichever company offers the best coverage in your area is the one you're going to go with.
So the next time you get that wireless bill in the mail and you uncover those hidden fees, or you receive a notification that you'll have to change your plan to fit the carrier's new offerings and you grab the phone to call and threaten to cancel, just stop.
Stop, and realize that canceling will cost you hundreds. Stop and pull up a coverage map and see that this carrier is truly what's best for you, whether you like it or not. And stop and understand that customer service doesn't mean a thing.
To find coverage and locate towers in your area, head over to CellReception.com
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Categories: Editorials & Opinion