According to a new study released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, customer satisfaction across the wireless industry dropped from last year, despite aggregate gains across all sectors of the economy covered by the survey. The ACSI uses interviews with roughly 70,000 customers to measure satisfaction with more than 225 companies. This month the group reported on the information sector, which earned a score of 71.9 out of 100, lower than any other sector except government services.
Among wireless carriers, regional wireless operators scored decidedly higher marks in customer evaluations of the quality of services compared with nationwide rivals.
The index found that an aggregate of smaller operators – calling out the likes of Tracfone Wireless and U.S. Cellular – notched a score of 76 in its latest survey, which was down slightly from previous surveys. By comparison, Sprint Nextel scored highest among nationwide operators with a score of 71, which the index noted was up substantially from a score of 56 in 2008.
Verizon Wireless stepped in just behind Sprint Nextel with a score of 70, a score that has fallen steadily over the past three years. AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA both posted a score of 69 in the survey, with the index noting that AT&T Mobility managed to post the largest improvement among wireless carriers.
Overall, ACSI found that customer satisfaction for wireless carriers dropped 1.4% year-over-year to a score of 70 out of a possible 100.
Verizon’s fiber optic subscription TV service (FIOS) was a standout in an industry that traditionally frustrates consumers, scoring an all-time industry high of 74. Dish Network was a distant second at 69, and the pay-TV industry as as a whole scored 66.
Among device makers, Apple predictably blew away its competitors with a score of 83, the highest score ever for a mobile phone maker. Nokia, LG and HTC all scored 75, while Motorola Mobility saw its score slide 5 percentage points to 73 and Samsung’s score fell 4 points to 71. Research In Motion scored 69, the lowest of the device manufacturers surveyed. The industry as a whole scored 74.
The software industry had the highest satisfaction score (78) within the information sector, but bellwether Microsoft saw its score slip three percentage points to 75.
Bottom line: American consumers appear to be slightly happier with their devices than with the carriers who sell them.