05:44 PM

Mobile-Phone Complexity Driving Rise In Customer Support Calls

Some 59% of wireless subscribers surveyed this year by JD Power have contacted their provider within a 12-month period, the highest level since the firm started gathering such data in 2000.

The increasing complexity of mobile phones has driven a steady rise in the number of customer calls to carriers, a study released Wednesday showed.

Fully 59 percent of wireless subscribers surveyed this year by J.D. Power and Associates have contacted their provider within a 12-month period, the highest level since the firm started gathering such data in 2000, when the number was 47 percent. Last year, the figure was 54 percent.

A key factor in the steady rise is the complexity of using today's phones, which can capture still pictures or video, download ring tones, play music files and show TV clips, J.D. Power said. As a result, customers are more likely than ever to reach out to carriers for help.

In turn, the calls put more pressure on carriers' service reps, who are handling more calls while also trying to understand and solve the problems in a timely manner.

"As more wireless companies encourage customers to try new services, this trend will continue to rise," Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power, said in a statement.

Those carriers who aren't prepared for the trend could lose subscribers. J.D. Power found that customers who call carriers with problems are 50 percent more likely to switch to another carrier.

J.D. Power found that T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless tied in ranking the highest for creating a positive experience in customer service. ALLTEL ranked third, followed in order by Cingular and Sprint Nextel.

The findings were based on a survey between January and March of more than 11,430 wireless customers.

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