Customer complaints have increased in recent months at the company, a wireless phone carrier called ExpressNet. While customer complaints typically cover a range of consumer concerns, the number of calls reporting problems with reception has increased at rate much greater than for any other issue category. Complaints about reception include call quality, dropped calls, and spotty coverage.
ExpressNet is a wireless phone carrier offering the full spectrum of services: Voice, data, video, and hardware. Recently, ExpressNet has been negotiating for partner relationships with other wireless phone carriers that have broader coverage areas. The company believes these partnerships are an economical and expedient way to address the growing problem of complaints about reception. In the interim, ExpressNet is focused on retaining market share and believes that improved communication with customers during this transition period will ensure that the greatest number of customers stay with the company. In order to better understand customer needs and craft effective responses to customer issues, the company will conduct a customer satisfaction survey. The company anticipates completing the survey every other year in order to benchmark improvements and the impact of partner relationships on customer satisfaction related to call reception and coverage.
The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAP) (2003) has recommended that the Federal Communications Commission include call quality in its mandated annual report that examines the effectiveness of completion in the mobile phone services market. The GAP considers evaluation of call quality to be an important aspect of long-term monitoring of the industry and necessary for Congress and the FCC to determine if carriers are meeting consumers' expectations without further regulatory action. The GAO conducted a national survey of adult consumers in November 2002. Their findings indicated that about one-tenth of the survey respondents were dissatisfied with call quality, and that one-fifth of mobile phone users experienced call failure of 10% or more due to dropped calls by their networks.
A fundamental driver for ongoing evaluation of the quality of mobile services is the constraints placed on consumers by early termination fees (Plutzik, 2008). The burden of having to pay substantive fees to be released from a mobile services contract keeps most customers from switching carriers (Plutzik, 2008). In the interim, while they wait for their contracts to run out, consumers may have to put up with inferior service and, often, these consumers become such disgruntled consumers that they publically declaim their carriers (Plutzik, 2008). In the current social media environment, this can result in substantive loss of market share.
A hybrid research technique was used in this customer satisfaction survey, utilizing both qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection and analysis. Closed-end questions were used in the survey, and an open-end section at the end of the survey permitted respondents to elaborate on their wireless phone service experiences. Closed-end questions gathered quantitative responses that were analyzed in terms of percentage of respondents providing categorical answers. The open-end section provided qualitative data that was analyzed by a constant comparative method -- based on grounded theory -- with basically builds themes in an iterative fashion as survey responses are considered one-at-a-time, with each newly considered response building on the previous responses. The findings will be summarized on the ExpressNet website and customers will receive an invitation to view the customer satisfaction survey results by email. In-store brochures will contain a summary of the findings with a link to the webpage that provides more details about the purpose of the customer satisfaction survey and the survey results.
Instrumentation. The customer satisfaction survey conducted by ExpressNet included questions that would result in both quantitative data and qualitative data. The survey consisted of one preliminary screening question and nine questions related to call reception, dropped calls, and coverage area. A random digit dialing telephone survey approach was used to contact potential survey participants. The survey questions addressed satisfaction with mobile phone service, call quality, complaint-making practices, and variables that influence decisions to change mobile phone carriers. Some questions required respondents to identify how many times during a week they experienced a particular problem with the quality of calls. Other questions required respondents to identify a level of satisfaction with a particular attribute of their mobile phone service. For these questions, a seven-point Likert scale was used to gather respondents' perceptions about their mobile phone services experiences. Scoring was based on the…