Verizon customers are more miserable than T-Mobile’s (or even AT&T’s)

Verizon customers are more miserable than T-Mobile’s (or even AT&T’s)
Written by Techbot

Um, can I get some service please?

(A screenshot from a Verizon ad.)

Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNET

Have you tried getting customer service lately?

Any sort of customer service from any sort of company?

It’s not been easy, has it? Especially when it comes to, say, airlines. Or Facebook.

I, though, constantly wonder what’s happening with phone carriers. Visiting carrier stores and talking to the salespeople is a long-time passion of mine, one that the pandemic largely curtailed.

So what’s been happening in those stores — and in carriers’ customer service offerings overall?

Thankfully, the large brains at J.D. Power have constantly been monitoring customer sentiment among the likes of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.

And the general sentiment seems to be: “Ugh.”

The latest J.D. Power Wireless Purchase Experience Study offers a somewhat somber view. J.D Power’s managing director Ian Greenblatt put it like this: “The study finds that respondents believe they’re paying more and receiving less.”

There are few more pungent feelings than getting nothing for something. You’re spending money, and you’re getting not much of anything at all. Not even a smile.

With these wireless carriers, though, there seems to be a particular — and familiar — problem.

Said Greenblatt: “Staff retention constraints, shorter representative tenure and less training are leading to a longer time to complete the purchase, more perceived effort from the customer and, ultimately, a decrease in satisfaction.”

One can’t help feeling that carriers would prefer to close their physical stores entirely and move every interaction online. When that happens, you can be sure of one thing — the customer has to do even more of the work.

You might wonder, though, about specifics. Which carrier still manages to offer some sort of customer service, and which appears to have abdicated?

Well, T-Mobile came top — not so difficult, I suppose, when you have only two competitors — with a score of 797 out of 1,000. I’ve often had the impression that T-Mobile has offered peculiarly human levels of customer service when the likes of, say, AT&T have not.

Talking of AT&T, it’s not the worst. This survey of more than 14,000 customers gave it a score of 754. Yes, this is below the category average. But it’s still a fulsome 16 points above Verizon, which finished at the very bottom.

Could it be that Verizon has an especially troublesome time pleasing its customers? Or could it be that its customers — always being told that Verizon is the best and has the finest coverage — are simply more demanding?

The pandemic certainly wasn’t kind to Verizon employees. They complained about customers’ behavior. They complained about, well, Verizon too. Their experience wasn’t, though, isolated.

Customer service ought to be part of a premium offering, and it seems Verizon customers currently believe they’re not getting it.

Also: The company that’s covering for AT&T’s failures (Verizon’s and T-Mobile’s too)

I contacted Verizon for its view and will update you should I hear.

For its part, J.D. Power describes an essential dynamic occurring in today’s carrier market.

“As consumers increase their device usage and reliance,” said Greenblatt, “the purchase experience becomes that much more important.”

That’s surely the crux. The more people depend on a particular device, the more they expect to be supported by the company that sold it. Which doesn’t always seem to be happening.

But just in case you think any of these carriers is really all that good at customer service, this survey paints a little perspective.

Cricket, Metro by T-Mobile, Spectrum Mobile and Consumer Cellular all enjoyed higher satisfaction scores than T-Mobile. 

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