Alltel, T-Mobile Top Retail Service Study

Price and promotions are becoming increasingly important factors in the wireless retail experience, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Marin Perez, Contributor

September 17, 2009

2 Min Read

T-Mobile's retail stores offered the best customer service among the major U.S. carriers, according to a new study from J.D. Power and Associates.

The report measures the in-store experience of wireless customers based on the sales staff, prices and promotions, the store facility, and how the merchandise is displayed. The in-store experience can be an important factor in how new and existing customers decide which carrier to support, the report said.

T-Mobile took the top spot in the study, and the report found it performed well in all of the major categories. Alltel took the second spot, although the majority of its subscribers have been folded into Verizon Wireless as part of the $28 billion acquisition last year. Verizon took the third spot, the report said.

The mobile industry has felt the impact of the global economic recession, and the report found that price and promotions are playing an increasingly important role in the overall customer satisfaction experience, from 16% in 2006 to about 30% in 2009. This potentially gives retailers like Best Buy a chance to gain traction because it automatically applies rebates to phones without any waiting period or mail-in process.

"Getting a good deal on a high-quality product is only one part of providing a satisfying retail sales experience and building a loyal customer base," said Kirk Parsons, senior director with J.D. Power and Associates, in a statement. "It is critical that salespeople fulfill the basic needs of customers during every visit, including ensuring that they leave the facility with the ability to operate their phone, providing them with a comprehensive understanding of their service plan, and informing them of new options and features that may be available."

AT&T and Sprint Nextel tied for last place overall, as both carriers had poor marks on cost and merchandise displays. Both carriers are in the middle of addressing these concerns though, as AT&T is revamping all of its stores to have working devices like the iPhone, BlackBerry Bold, or Nokia Surge prominently displayed. Sprint has implemented its Ready Now program, which assists customers with setting up e-mail accounts on phones, as well as migrating data from old devices to new ones.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on smartphone security. Download the report here (registration required).

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