As new customers realize the network can't handle the device...
A research firm called the CFI Group has released a new Smartphone Satisfaction Survey
that claims the iPhone isn't helping AT&T when it comes to customer service. The group finds no correlation between customer satisfaction with their smart phone and their satisfaction with their carriers, finding that the iPhone ranked tops for satisfaction (83 out of 100) out of all smartphones, while AT&T ranked last in customer satisfaction among all wireless carriers. Raise your hand if you're particularly surprised?
Not only is the iPhone not helping, but it may be hurting. As customers who switch to AT&T to get the iPhone experience the company's well-discussed congestion and connectivity problems
, they're dragging down AT&T's overall score. In fact, the CFI Group says that customers who switched to AT&T to get the iPhone ranked AT&T lower (64) than those who were already with the carrier (72). As we've noted
though, despite AT&T's problems, the carrier has the lowest "churn" (customer defection) rate in the industry.
AT&T subsequently locks these disgruntled customers into long term contracts with early termination fees, allowing AT&T executives to delude themselves
into thinking customers are sticking around because they're happy. Brand loyalty and exclusive contracts also play a role; loyal Apple customers stick with AT&T because they have no choice, which in essence is rewarding AT&T for poor customer service and network performance.
Meanwhile Verizon, which had the highest customer service score (79), has its own problems. While 86% of the survey's smartphone users said Verizon was their "ideal carrier," only 38% of Verizon smartphone customers say their current phone is their ideal smartphone. That's the lowest percentage of any provider, and reflects criticism in recent weeks that Verizon fails to offer particularly compelling smartphones
. Of course while AT&T's problem might make Verizon seem like the ideal carrier, Verizon might have struggled with iPhone capacity demand as well.
"The iPhone has been a cash cow for AT&T, but that cash comes at a cost in terms of overall satisfaction. In effect, switchers can be satisfaction saboteurs if they were not already inclined to choose AT&T," said CFI's Doug Helmreich. "As for Verizon, the scales may tip if customers continue to demand smartphones that the company fails to supply. Then again, will its network hold up if it adds network-heavy smartphones? For now, its an apples to oranges comparison."