J.D. PowerWireless service customers who own a 4G-enabled mobile device are generally more satisfied with their purchase experiences than those who own 3G or previous generation mobile devices, according to the results of J.D. Power Associates’ “2013 U.S. Wireless Full-Service Purchase Experience Study – Volume 1” and “2013 U.S. Wireless Non-Contract Purchase Experience Study – Vol. 1.”

Overall satisfaction with their most recent purchases from full-service wireless providers was “considerably higher” for those who purchased 4G-enabled devices (774 out of a possible 1,000 points) as compared to those who purchased a device based on previous-generation wireless technology (753), such as a 3G smartphone or feature phone, J.D. Power researchers found. This held true across both the retail and online purchase channels.

Full-service wireless customers who had purchased a 4G device in a retail shop ranked their experiences higher than non-4G customers for “fairness of price paid for additional services, such as Web browsing, text messaging, ring tones, attractiveness of phones and equipment to choose from.”

The study also revealed a direct correlation between a knowledgeable salesperson and higher levels of customer satisfaction with the retail experience.

“Customers making purchases in retail stores have an opportunity to touch handsets and accessories and understand the value associated with each, something not possible over the phone,” Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates, was quoted in a press release.

“In addition, carriers have invested heavily in merchandising, store upgrades and staff training to make the overall purchase experience for customers more enjoyable and efficient in the retail store.”

Sprint Nextel came out on top in J.D. Power’s ranking of consumer purchase experiences among full-service wireless carriers for the fourth consecutive study period, scoring 778 out of a possible 1,000 points. Verizon Wireless ranked second with a score of 764.

Boost Mobile ranked highest among non-contract wireless service customers with a score of 773, scoring particularly high in phone sales representative, cost of service and website service. MetroPCS and Virgin Mobile ranked second and third with scores of 768 and 767, respectively.

J.D. Power’s latest reports also reveal:

  • Non-contract carriers excel at satisfying customers who purchase a new phone online. Satisfaction with the overall purchase experience among non-contract customers who purchase their phone online is 789, compared with 768 among those who purchase their device over the phone and 742 among those who buy their device in a store. This trend is opposite that of full-service carriers.
  • While the majority of customers who make their purchase online do so via their carrier’s website (76%), satisfaction with the experience is higher among those who make their purchase via such general shopping websites as amazon.com and sites for big box retailers, such as bestbuy.com. Satisfaction among customers who make their purchase via general shopping sites and big box store sites is 772 and 752, respectively, compared with 736 among those who purchase via their carrier’s site.
  • Customer satisfaction with the overall purchase experience for other retailers, such as Apple, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack and Wal-Mart, has improved relative to satisfaction with full-service carrier-branded stores. In 2013 Vol. 1, satisfaction is five points higher among customers purchasing from electronics and big box stores than carrier-branded stores, while it is 18 points lower in the 2012 Vol. 2 study.