The latest J.D. Power rankings on cell phone call quality are out and the findings aren’t terribly surprising, but there are a few caveats. Verizon Wireless rates the best for call quality in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and West regions, and tied with Sprint in the Southwest region. Alltel ranked highest in the Southeast and tied with U.S. Cellular in the North Central regions. Despite the iPhone buzz and success, AT&T didn’t do too well, ranking below average in five out of six regions. As suspected, call quality is an important factor for consumers when choosing a wireless carrier. According to J.D. Power, “among wireless subscribers who say they ‘definitely will’ switch their current wireless provider, problem rates average fifty-one problems per one hundred calls (51 PP100), which is five times higher than problem rates of customers who report they “definitely will not” switch in the next 12 months (9 PP100).”
While Sprint’s ratings are not terribly impressive, they are improving. Sprint is making a concerted effort to address quality and customer service under new CEO Dan Hesse. Properly addressing those issues takes time – a long time. There is a perception issue to overcome. As the sprint connection blog points out, Sprint’s perception problem probably impacts their quality ratings, making it doubly difficult to properly address them. They’ll need to step up their game even more than they already have, because call quality, real or perceived, will be a huge factor in stopping their precipitous fall. “With an increasingly competitive environment and the complexity of services often used in conjunction with cell phones steadily on the rise, carriers that offer superior network quality will improve their likelihood of attracting new customers and will increase customer retention,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. The J.D. Power survey reveals that 14% of current wireless customers “definitely/probably” will switch wireless providers in the next 12 months. That equates to 35 million+ subscribers. How many of that number are current Sprint customers?