6 Ways to Get Better Cell Phone Customer Service

Photo (cc) by typexnick

Wireless customers with unlimited data plans have fewer and shorter problems with customer service than those with tiered/limited plans, a new J.D. Power study says.

Maybe that’s obvious – having unlimited data is less confusing than having to understand policy changes, make decisions about the right plan for your usage, or dealing with limits and surcharges from going over them.

But carriers have shifted toward tiered plans for consumers who increasingly own smartphones and tablets that gobble up data instead of minutes, and AT&T and Verizon are rolling out shared data plans this month. Those changes makes the rest of J.D. Power’s customer service surveys (one for the “full-service” contract carriers and one for the rest) more interesting. Here’s how JDP ranks the carriers’ customer service out of 1,000…

Contract carriers

  1. Verizon Wireless – 771
  2. Sprint Nextel – 764
  3. AT&T – 756
  4. T-Mobile – 722

Non-contract carriers

  1. Virgin Mobile – 750
  2. TracFone – 718
  3. Straight Talk – 705
  4. MetroPCS – 702
  5. Boost Mobile – 698
  6. Net10 – 677
  7. Cricket – 673

It’s interesting that the prepaid division of Sprint, Virgin Mobile, has higher customer service satisfaction than T-Mobile – and almost as high as AT&T. But other survey findings suggest insights for actually dealing with customer service at the company you’re with. Let’s combine those with some tips we’ve suggested before

1. Try online chat

Fully 40 percent of contract customers who resolved a service issue online in the past six months say they used an online chat function to talk to customer service. That’s a higher percentage than a year ago, and customers were happier with this solution than with digging through the website, looking up Web forums, or emailing the company.

You can find live chat links for Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Note that the links may only be visible when a representative is available (usually during normal business hours) and if you’re logged in.

2. Get the right person

Non-contract customers who got their problem resolved on the first try were much more satisfied than those who had to speak with multiple people. (The survey for contract carriers doesn’t mention this, but it seems obviously true.)

But before you contact anyone, make notes for yourself about what exactly the problem is – and make sure you can explain it clearly to avoid getting juggled between representatives or even departments.

3. Tap the app

Two-thirds of contract customers with recent customer service problems used a mobile app to contact their carrier, and they were more satisfied with the results than those who didn’t. These apps can also be used to check usage, pay the bill, and compare plans. They may also be easier to navigate than the carriers’ full websites.

4. Call during “off-peak” times

The best time of day to call is toward the end of the business day, often about an hour before the call center closes – you know, when everybody’s rushing to finish up work. The worst time to call is usually late morning or early afternoon, especially lunch hour.

5. Avoid new releases

The newest devices come with two customer service problems. First, the representatives aren’t that familiar with them yet. Second, they’re the shiny new toy everybody suddenly has to have, play with, and break (or at least learn how to use). In other words, they’re going to eat up a lot of customer service time.

6. Shut down the upsell

Reps have two job goals, which are often at odds: make the customer happy, and sell the customer stuff. This isn’t by choice: They often have scripts they’re forced to recite about new features and services, and their calls are monitored by managers.

While the initial part of their script may be unavoidable, “opt out” of the sales pitches ASAP. At the first opportunity to speak, politely and firmly say you have no interest in modifying your current service. And if it comes up in their script again later – you may even hear the wince and the apology in their voice – be a little more forceful and less patient.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Reasons to Carry Mortgage Debt Into Retirement

It often makes financial sense to not pay off your mortgage before retiring.

The 5 Most Expensive U.S. States for Retirees

If you have or expect to have a modest retirement income, you may want to avoid spending your golden years here.

Watch This: Organize Your Home With Dollar Tree Products

Here’s how to organize every corner of your home using only items from a dollar store.

What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?

The best battery depends on what you need it for and how big your budget is. Here’s how to find the cheapest brand that will do the job you need.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

20 Amazon Purchases We Loved in 2020

These practical products made everyday life a little easier last year — and will do so in the new year, too.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.