J.D. PowerOverall satisfaction with wireless voice and data services among very small, small and medium-sized U.S. businesses improved significantly during the past six months, averaging 694 on a 1,000-point scale as opposed to a score of 674 in 2012, according to J.D. Power and Associates’, “2013 U.S. Business Wireless Service Satisfaction Study.”

Verizon Wireless took top honors among wireless service providers in both the very small and small/medium business segments for the second consecutive year. Sprint ran a close second in the very small business segment, while T-Mobile ranked second among small/medium businesses.

J.D. Power’s overall business customer satisfaction scores scores are based on a weighted total of scores across six key factors: performance and reliability (29%); sales representatives and account executives (18%); cost of service (18%); offerings and promotions (14%); billing (12%); and customer service (8%).

2013′s improvement resulted from higher ratings for promptness in speaking with service representatives and timeliness in resolving problems and questions, according to a J.D. Power press release.

Sixty-seven percent of customers who contacted customer service during the last six months said their problem was resolved on the first contact. That’s up from 62% in 2012.

Business customers’ customer service contacts and inquiry rates dropped 5% year-over-year (YoY) and issues are being resolved in a timely manner thanks to operational improvements service providers have made over the course of the past year to enhance network performance and reduce call transfer rates and hold times, according to J.D. Power.

“It’s very encouraging to note that the customer service process is improving and that wireless business customers are reaping the financial benefits of enhanced resolution rates,” commented Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power & Associates.

“The ability of wireless providers to successfully resolve problems on the first contact is paramount, as customers’ intention to switch their provider increases by 79 percent when more than one contact is required to resolve their problem.”

Business customer satisfaction with the cost of wireless service increased 24 index points, with “business customers in all segments perceiving more value for their money, despite increasing their spending on both voice and data services and an average $81 per month on a year-to-year basis,” the Westlake Village, California-based market research company’s analysts noted.

According to their findings, a higher percentage of employers are providing data plans to their employees – 89% in 2013 vs. 79% in 2012. Customer satisfaction with wireless network services’ quality and reliability rose 18 index points YoY, with 57% of customers saying that they receive positive feedback on network quality from their employees, a 10% YoY improvement.

The percentage of business customers who said they are likely to switch providers in the next 12 months is nearly three times higher among business customers who experienced network connection issues than for the study’s average business customer — 27% vs. 10%.

Looking at usage patterns, J.D. Power analysts found that:

  • In 2013, 27 percent of business customers that purchase handsets for their employees allow the employees to choose from a selected group of models, compared with 19 percent in 2010.
  • Just 9 percent of business customers have experienced mobile security issues within the past six months. The study finds little additional negative impact on mobile security when businesses policies allow employees to use their personal device.