Phones

The Smartphones You Can Rely On

Satisfied With Phone Support

To access tech support, smartphone owners experiencing problems usually elect to call (as opposed to using Web-based or in-store support). And in general, smartphone users say they're satisfied with the quality of the phone support they get from service providers.

We asked users to rate the support departments on the quality of the information given, on the reps' communication skills and problem-solving abilities, and on other criteria. Smartphone customers from all four major carriers responded uniformly, and rather positively. Sprint customers gave its tech support an overall score of 5.6 out of 7, while AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon customers graded those companies' tech support a 5.7 out of 7.

Our study shows that, in 43 percent of cases, smartphone support issues are resolved through phone support alone, and, in almost 50 percent of cases, after contact with just one phone rep.

Javier D. Margo Jr., Rio Grande City, Texas
Still, many of our survey takers expressed frustration. "It took too long to solve the problem," says Sprint Palm Pre user Javier D. Margo Jr. "I spent five hours continuously either chatting online or speaking directly, often to two different reps (one from Sprint, one from Palm) at the same time."

"If they don't know the answer or how to solve the problem, [they should] take the person's number, find the solution to the issue, then call the person back," suggests one AT&T customer who asked that his name not be used. "That way," he continues, "the customer doesn't have to wait through transfers and holds while somebody goes to ask somebody else."

Sprint, Verizon Do Better on Hold Times

First impressions count, and often the first taste of service provider support that smartphone owners receive is the length of time they have to wait on hold to speak to a rep.

We saw some real differences in the hold times reported by customers of the four major wireless service providers. Sprint and Verizon seemed to excel here; their customers reported average hold times of just 4.4 minutes and 4.7 minutes, respectively. Meanwhile, AT&T and T-Mobile customers told us they waited on hold an average of 6.5 minutes and 6.6 minutes, respectively.

Smartphone owners as a whole have mixed opinions about the acceptability of hold times. About 49 percent of our survey takers said hold times were completely acceptable, while 33 percent called them somewhat acceptable, and about 18 percent considered them unacceptable.

In-Store Support: You May Have to Wait

Smartphone users are a bit more satisfied with the tech support they receive in service provider stores, compared with phone or online support. For 15 percent of smartphone problems, a visit to an AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon store provided a resolution to the issue.

When asked about the attitude, knowledge, problem-solving skills, and timeliness of in-store reps, subscribers graded staffers in AT&T and Verizon stores fairly well at 5.7 and 5.3, respectively, on our 7-point scale.

Our results suggest that Sprint and Verizon may not have enough staff in stores to help customers quickly. Thirty-five percent of Sprint customers felt that they were kept waiting in the store too long before getting attention. About 28 percent of Verizon customers complained of long in-store wait times.

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