This study from Vocalabs compares customer service quality for Apple, Dell, and HP technical support. The survey found significant trends over 2008 to 2009 and assisted in analysis of call center improvements.
About This Study
The National Customer Service Survey compares the customer service quality for different companies in the same industry, using survey data and call statistics from the companies’ customers. As part of this ongoing research, we interview customers of competing companies immediately after a customer service call.
About This Release
The data in this report is based on 1,859 completed telephone interviews conducted between May 2008 and December 2009. Of the companies we studied, we collected enough data on Apple, Dell, and HP to make direct comparisons of the three companies’ support effectiveness.
Consumers were recruited online to participate in this study, and called an alternate toll-free phone number for technical support. This alternate number forwarded to the company’s published technical support phone number and allowed Vocalabs to track the progress of each call. Selected participants were called back immediately after the end of the support call and interviewed about their experience. The full data set, including survey responses and interview recordings, is available to Vocalabs clients.
Summary of Key Findings
- While Apple continues to lead Dell and HP across key customer satisfaction metrics for phone-based technical support, HP made marked improvements in customer satisfaction with its agents and the automated portion of the call. Sixty-four percent of Apple customers surveyed during 2009 said they were “Very Satisfied” with the call, a 19 percentage point lead over Dell and a 17 percentage point lead over HP.
HP improvements in technical support calls drove increases in customer satisfaction. Year over year results for HP demonstrate how call factor improvements can in turn have a positive impact on call and business outcomes.
In 2009, HP customers reported fewer problems with the automated portion of the call (also known as interactive voice response or IVR) compared to 2008. HP customers also said it was easier to reach an agent and fewer felt they were made to go through irrelevant or repetitive steps on the call. In turn, HP saw a 9 percentage point increase in the percentage of customers who were “Very Satisfied” with the agent, and a 17 point increase in the percentage of customers who were “Very Satisfied” with the automated portion of the call. This led to a 6% increase in overall satisfaction for HP.
- Customer satisfaction with computer technical support calls has a signi?cant impact on loyalty and likelihood to recommend.Customers who said they were “Very Satisfied” with the call were 3.2 times more likely to say they would repurchase again than customers who were dissatisfied with the call, and 3.3 times more likely to say they would recommend the company to a friend or colleague.
- Of the call factors measured, issue resolution has the greatest impact on technical support call satisfaction. Eighty-six percent of customers who said their issue was resolved on the call said they were very satisfied with the call, compared to 12% of customers who said their issue was not resolved on the call.
Call Satisfaction and Business Outcomes
Of the customers surveyed during 2009, 70% said they intended to purchase from the company again in the future. The same percentage of customers surveyed said they would recommend the Company to a friend or colleague. Forty-eight percent of all respondents said they were very satisfied with the company overall.
We found that customer satisfaction with the call, agent and automated system had a significant impact on intent to repurchase and on overall satisfaction with the company. Eighty-nine percent of customers who said they were “Very Satisfied” with the call reported they intended to repurchase from the company again, compared to 28% of those who were dissatisfied with the call. Eighty-one percent of customers who were “Very Satisfied” with the call said they were satisfied overall with the company, while just 5% of customers who were dissatisfied with the call said they were satisfied overall with the company.
Technical Support Trends: Apple vs. Dell vs. HP
The National Customer Service Survey for Technical Support launched in the first half of 2008, giving us over 18 months of continuous survey data on customers’ perceptions of the quality of the technical support they receive from Apple, Dell, and HP. Two significant trends are visible in the survey data from 2008 to 2009, one at Apple, and another at HP.
At Apple, the percentage of customers reporting that it was easy to reach an agent and that the hold time was reasonable improved significantly. The average self-reported wait time for a technician at Apple was about three minutes 40 seconds in 2008, and dropped to two minutes 20 seconds in 2009. This led to corresponding improvements in overall satisfaction with the support call as well as high-level business metrics like company satisfaction and intent to repurchase.
At HP, we saw a significant improvement in customers’ satisfaction with the automated part of the call, before speaking with an agent. In 2008, 24% of HP customers we surveyed reported having a problem with the automated part of the call, and only 23% of the customers were “Very Satisfied” with the automation. In 2009, this improved significantly, with only 13% of customers reporting problems, and 39% “Very Satisfied” with the automated portion of the call.
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