When retail sales representatives demonstrate cell phone or tablet service and features to wireless customers prior to purchase, satisfaction improves considerably and the propensity to visit the same retailer again doubles, according to the '2014 Wireless Purchase Experience Full-Service Study (Volume 2)' and the simultaneously published '2014 Wireless Purchase Experience Non-Contract Study (Volume 2)' from J.D. Power. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

Now in their 11th year, the semi-annual studies evaluate the wireless purchase experience of customers using any one of three contact channels: phone calls with sales representatives; visits to a retail wireless store; and online. Overall customer satisfaction with both full-service and non-contract carriers is measured across six factors (in order of importance): store sales representative; website; store facility; offerings and promotions; cost of service; and phone sales representative.

"There is strong incentive for wireless service carriers to encourage their sales representatives to offer service and feature demonstrations to prospective cell phone and tablet customers. Not only does this increase the likelihood that customers will select the right device for their needs, it proactively answers questions that may otherwise arise after the sales transaction," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications for J.D. Power. "Identifying the types of features and services a customer is seeking at the point of purchase can reduce future call-backs to customer care, while improving the overall customer experience and long-term loyalty."

Overall satisfaction among wireless full-service customers who made a recent sales transaction is 792 (on a 1,000-point scale) and is 783 among non-contract wireless customers. AT&T ranks highest among full-service carriers, with an overall score of 801, followed closely by T-Mobile with a score of 796. Boost Mobile (800) ranks highest among non-contract carriers, followed by MetroPCS (793) and Virgin Mobile (791).

Among the key findings of both studies:

  • Overall satisfaction is significantly higher among customers whose sales representative offers a device demonstration (832) than among those who are not offered a demonstration during a store visit (711).
  • More than half (55%) of wireless customers indicate that they made a purchase from their carrier during the past 6 months. Of those making a purchase, 66% make their purchase in a store, while 24% purchase online and 10% call their carrier.
  • Among customers who make their purchase in a store, 61% indicate that their sales representative demonstrated or explained the features on the devices they considered.
  • Nearly one-half (46%) of customers who receive a device demonstration during their in-store sales visit say they "definitely will" shop at the same retailer again, compared with just 23% of those who do not receive a demonstration.
  • Providing a demonstration is an opportunity for carriers to build loyalty among customers, as 37% of customers who receive a demonstration say they "definitely will not" switch their carrier, compared with 26% of those who do not receive a demonstration.
  • Satisfaction with sales representatives who explain or demonstrate a device's operation during the point of sale is 843, compared with just 693 when representatives fail to offer a demonstration.
  • On average, sales representatives spend approximately eight minutes demonstrating how to operate a new device. Total in-store transaction time among customers who receive a demonstration from their sales representative is less than among those who are not given a demonstration (54.6 minutes vs. 56.1 minutes, respectively).