Monthly wireless costs dropping for small businesses, J.D. Power finds: VZw, T-Mo lead in consumer satisfaction

Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA Inc. continue to lead in customer satisfaction, this time among small businesses, according to a recent J.D. Power and Associates survey released last month. While Verizon Wireless was the favored carrier among small- and medium-sized business, T-Mobile took top honors among home-based businesses.
Overall, the survey found that small- and mid-sized business users are more satisfied with their wireless service than home-based businesses, due to cost concerns for home-based businesses. J.D. Power said small and midsize businesses are more satisfied because they are getting more service promotions and discounts.
“Both T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless have differentiated themselves from the competition specifically by exceeding customer expectations in key service areas such as efficient customer service processes and strong network performance and reliability,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services for J.D. Power. “Particularly among small- and mid-sized businesses, customer service and network-related issues such as call quality and performance reliability are important elements that impact the daily decision-making process. Both T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless appear to be meeting these needs in an effective manner.”
Sprint Nextel Corp. and AT&T Mobility received poorer scores in network reliability and customer care, factors that are related to each other, Parsons said in an interview with RCR Wireless News. If a customer has a poor network experience, they call customer care to try to resolve the problem.
The survey, which is in its sixth year, polled 3,247 businesses on a variety of factors –network performance, sales representatives, billing, cost of service, customer service and promotions. Home-based businesses are defined as having between one and five employees, while small- and mid-sized businesses are defined as having between two and 499 employees and not based in a home.
In the home-based business category, T-Mobile ranked highest with a score of 712 out of a possible 1,000; followed by Verizon Wireless, which scored 690 points; Alltel, which scored 670; the average score of 667; Sprint Nextel, which scored 656 and AT&T Mobility, which scored 627 points.
In the small business category, Verizon Wireless took top honors, with a score of 707; followed by T-Mobile, which scored 698. Interestingly, Sprint Nextel (661); Alltel and AT&T Mobility (658 for both) all fell below the industry average of 682.
“Clearly, the revenue potential among larger businesses dictates that wireless service providers are more aggressive in offering pricing discounts through sales promotions, such as volume-tiered pricing based on the number of employees participating,” said Parsons. “This could also include offering bundled products and services as a way to promote cost savings, given that from both revenue and customer loyalty perspectives, providers offering multiple services to meet client communication needs can almost immediately experience a positive financial impact.”
The cost of wireless services for small businesses is dropping, J.D. Power said. Home-office customers average about $140 per month, a drop of more than $30 per month compared with 2009. Small businesses saw their wireless service costs decline $190 year over year, to $930 per month.
While mobile broadband use is increasing, customers are still experiencing some sticker shock over pricing, Parsons said. A total of 41% of business decision-makers said they are using mobile broadband services. Parsons said faster networks and stable pricing should drive more adoption.

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