Study Faults AT&T, Apple on Customer Service
AT&T and Apple customers are less happy with the companies’ customer service performance than they have been in the past, a new study suggests.
The National Customer Service Survey conducted by Vocal Laboratories, which measures the quality of businesses' contact centers, tracked technical support performance among three major consumer electronics companies — including Apple, Dell and HP — and revealed that Apple customers have been experiencing an increase in problems with the company’s automated portion of its support calls.
The tech support portion of the study included more than 4,000 surveys conducted between May 2008 and June 2011 and focused on customer service received over the phone.
“While the company's overall service remains ahead of its competitors, the automation on Apple's tech support calls has been garnering even more complaints over the past six months,” Vocal Laboratories said in its August update.
Apple customers said the main reason for their dissatisfaction is that the automated call service didn’t understand something they said.
“Where Dell and HP have been posting some gradual improvements over time, Apple's trends have generally been to the worse,” said the report said. “It used to be that Apple was ahead of the pack in service quality; now it's fairer to say that Apple merely leads the pack.”
Meanwhile, the National Customer Service Survey — which also tracks customer service among mobile phone operators on a quarterly basis through interviews with customers immediately after a service experience — found that AT&T customers expressed more complaints during the three-month period ending June 2010.
About 6,000 interviews were conducted for the mobile portion of the study.
“Our speculation is that the announcement of the merger with T-Mobile in late March could have led to a spike in calls which AT&T representatives were under-prepared to handle,” the report reads.
As for other mobile phone carriers, the report noted that Verizon experienced an uptick in customer satisfaction during the first three months of the year. In the second quarter, Verizon's numbers returned closer to its normal levels.
“Normally we would chalk up such a thing to a statistical fluke, but we also saw a coincident and statistically significant shift in the types of calls around the times when Verizon's iPhone was announced and shipped,” the report said. “With an announcement that big, it's possible it could have affected Verizon's call mix enough to show up in our survey sample.”
The study also found that although Sprint posted big gains in key service metrics in 2010, its performance in 2011 has leveled out.