May 4, 2010
During March ChangeWave surveyed 4,040 consumers on their attitudes towards the wireless service provider industry – including trends in customer satisfaction and loyalty, future market share demand, and the issue of dropped calls.
The survey also took a close-up look at the potential industry impact if Verizon were to offer the Apple iPhone.
As in previous ChangeWave surveys, Verizon remains the clear industry leader in customer satisfaction – with nearly half of Verizon’s customers (49%) saying they are Very Satisfied with their cellular service.
We note that Sprint/Nextel (35%) is now second in terms of customer satisfaction, with T-Mobile (23%) and AT&T (23%) lagging well behind.
Dropped Calls. Verizon also ranks best in terms of number of dropped calls, with Verizon customers reporting only 1.5% of their calls being dropped over the past 3 months. This compares to 2.4% for Sprint/Nextel, 2.8% for T-Mobile and 4.5% for AT&T customers.
Importantly, while Verizon has its all-time best dropped call rating in the current ChangeWave survey, AT&T has just reached its all time worst rating on this all important measure.
To measure subscriber churn rates, we asked respondents how likely they are to switch wireless providers over the next 90 days. Only 8% say they plan to make a change – matching the lowest level recorded in a ChangeWave survey.
At the provider level, 7% of Verizon’s customers and 8% of AT&T’s say they’ll switch. Sprint/ Nextel (10%) and T-Mobile (14%) lag behind the two industry leaders.
AT&T’s low churn rate – despite its relatively poor Very Satisfied rating and its high percentage of dropped calls – is attributable to the huge advantage it continues to maintain as the exclusive U.S. service provider for the Apple iPhone.
Which Provider Gains Most From Customer Switching?
Thanks largely to a huge influx of Motorola Droid buyers, Verizon showed a leap in new customers in our previous survey. In the current survey, the percentage of customers who say they’ll switch to Verizon has settled back a bit – dipping 4-pts to 27%. Nonetheless they still hold a sizable lead over their top competitor – AT&T (18%) – which is 3-pts lower than last quarter and a full 14-pts lower than 9 months ago.
We note that Sprint/Nextel (7%; up 4-pts) is experiencing an uptick in terms of future share, which could be due to their new 4G wireless offer combined with some of the lowest price plans in the industry. It remains to be seen, however, whether Sprint’s latest rise will have staying power.
Potential Impact of a Verizon iPhone
The current survey was conducted before the latest Verizon iPhone rumors kicked up again. But one of the most interesting findings involves how likely non-AT&T customers would be to buy an Apple iPhone if it becomes available on their current provider:
Among Verizon, Sprint/Nextel and T-Mobile subscribers, an astonishing 49% say they’re Very or Somewhat Likely to buy an iPhone for themselves or someone else if it becomes available on their carrier.
But when we looked only at Verizon subscribers, that number rises to 53% – with 19% saying they’d be Very Likely and 34% Somewhat Likely to buy a Verizon iPhone.
In sum, the survey results show an unprecedented level of pent up demand for the iPhone among Verizon subscribers. If Verizon were ever to offer the iPhone, the evidence points to it having a profound and likely transformational impact on the industry.
In comparison, 11% of Sprint/Nextel customers say they’re Very Likely and 33% Somewhat Likely to buy an iPhone if it becomes available. Among T-Mobile customers, 11% say they’re Very Likely and 28% Somewhat Likely.