Smartphones Become Preferred Channel for Buying New Wireless Devices, J.D. Power Finds

Staff Report

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Smartphones have emerged as the purchase channel of choice for new wireless purchases, topping in-store, telephone and all other online channels in driving the highest levels of overall customer satisfaction with the new device purchase experience. That's the key finding of the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Wireless Purchase Experience Full-Service Performance Study—Volume 1 and the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Wireless Purchase Experience Non-Contract Performance Study—Volume 1, both released today.

"The wireless market is rapidly evolving into a self-contained ecosystem in which all aspects of the ownership experience, from buying the device to engaging with customer support, is done entirely on a mobile device," said Peter Cunningham, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Practice Lead at J.D. Power. "While in-store customer service is still key for things like explaining data usage and demonstrating device operations, the speed and consistency of the experience delivered via mobile is clearly resonating with mobile customers."

Following are key findings of the 2018 studies:

  • Satisfaction highest when making wireless device purchase online via smartphone: Overall satisfaction with the wireless device purchase experience is highest among customers who accessed an online sales channel via smartphone. Overall satisfaction among customers making new wireless device purchases online via smartphone is 857 points (on a 1,000-point scale) vs. 823 among customers who used the online channel via computer or tablet; 842 among those who used the in-store channel; and 836 among those who used the telephone.

  • Wireless purchase experience optimized for small screen: Customers making a new device purchase online via a smartphone spend an average of 10.6 minutes completing their online purchase, compared with 13.7 minutes among those using a computer or tablet. Customers purchasing via smartphone also provide higher ratings for website attributes, such as ease of navigation; appearance of website; and ease of making an order.

  • Stores still important: Among customers using the in-store channel to buy a new wireless device, the key drivers of satisfaction are explanation of how to manage data usage; explanation of the latest technology; and demonstration of device operations and features. Even when customers make the wireless purchase online, overall satisfaction scores are higher when they visit a store prior to making the purchase.

  • Unlimited data still wields influence: When it comes to cost of service, satisfaction is 12 points higher among customers with unlimited data plans than among those with data limits (768 vs. 756, respectively). Combining individual and family plans, the average price paid for a wireless phone increases to $364 from $308 in the 2017 Volume 2 study, and the average monthly service bill increases to $157 from $149.