T-Mobile tops AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in customer care rankings

J.D. Power study relied on input from some 10,000 wireless users that recently contacted customer service departments

T-Mobile USA topped other top U.S. wireless carriers in providing overall customer care during the first half of this year, according to a J.D. Power and Associates report released today.

The eighth annual U.S. Wireless Customer Care Performance Study is based on a survey of 9,690 wireless customers who had contacted their carrier's customer service department over the past six months.

T-Mobile finished with a ranking of 777 out of a 1,000-point scale that rates overall customer care. The industry average, according to the survey, is 753.

Meanwhile, AT&T ranked second with a score of 757, followed by Verizon Wireless which came in just beneath the average level.

Despite its claims of customer care improvements in recent quarters, and its receipt of accolades from outside ratings groups, Sprint Nextel finished last among the top four carriers in the study with a ranking of 734.

The study relied on experiences of customers who contacted their carrier's customer care department between January and June.

The report card is based on how well wireless carriers service their customers via telephone calls to a live representative or automated system, through visits to a retail location or on the Web.

J.D. Power noted that while 60% of wireless users still seek customer service remedies over the telephone, there's an increasing reliance on in-store and Web visits. Those working with store personnel to fix problems were found to be markedly more satisfied with the process, the survey found.

The increasing reliance on store visits is at least partly due to the fact that there more stores now than a year ago, J.D. Power officials said.

The biggest use of customer service operations is to resolve service or equipment problems, followed by billing queries and questions about incorrect charges. Pricing issues, call quality and problems with messaging and network coverage are at the bottom of the list, the marketing services firm said.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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