Sprint's biggest source of pride has been its climb from the bottom of the customer service rankings to the top in recent years, but it looks like it's slipping once again.
According to Consumer Reports' latest annual cellphone service rankings, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) was the lowest-ranking carrier in terms of customer satisfaction, scoring "dismal" marks. Last year, it was second only to Verizon Wireless , but this year, the 58,399 customers surveyed dinged it for value, voice, text, and 4G reliability.
The top slot in customer service this year went to tiny, contract-free MVNO Consumer Cellular. It even beat out AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), the network on which it runs. In general on the survey, prepaid providers ranked higher than their contract peers.
Verizon Wireless retained its top position among the big four, ranking highly in data service. It was followed by AT&T, which got top honors for the reliability of its 4G service, and T-Mobile US Inc. , but Consumer Reports says both AT&T and T-Mobile received "ho hum" markings.
Why this matters
Given how much Sprint has talked up its improved customer service under CEO Dan Hesse, its fall from grace is a big blow to the company's ego. Sprint's issues are, however, not surprising. The carrier is working through network upgrades under Network Vision that have affected its service. While its acquisition of Clearwire and by SoftBank Corp. should help tremendously in the long run, Sprint's customers might not be aware of what's going on behind the scenes. And Sprint hasn't been aggressive with offers and promotions in the meantime.
The findings related to smaller prepaid carriers are also notable, suggesting that consumers like the simplicity of monthly usage allotments with no long-term commitments. Consumer Reports also found that 38% of people use half or less of their monthly data plan, which could imply they are overpaying for data and need more help getting the right plan at the point of sale.
- Sprint Lays Off 800 Customer Service Reps
- Carriers to Pump More Cash Into CEM
- Sprint Touts Customer Experience
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading