Virgin Mobile Leads Wireless Carriers in Customer Experience

We recently released the 2015 Temkin Experience Ratings that ranks the customer experience of 293 companies across 20 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

The average rating for the wireless carrier industry dropped from 62% in 2014 to 61% in 2015—the first times in the history of the ratings that the industry’s average declined.

Here are some highlights from the wireless carriers’ results:

  • Virgin Mobile earned the highest rating in the industry with a score of 67%, which put it in 128th place overall. Virgin Mobile has been steadily improving its ratings over the past five years. In 2011, it was the lowest-rated wireless carrier, with a score of 29%, in 2012 it increased its score to 59%, and then to 61% in 2013, 64% in 2014, and then this year, it became the top-rated wireless carrier, with 67%.
  • With a score of 55%, Sprint is the lowest-rated wireless carrier for the first time since we began evaluating this industry in 2011. Sprint scored the furthest below the industry average for each of the three components: 8.7 percentage-points below the success average, 4.3 points below the effort average, and 5.5 points below the emotion average.
  • Of the eight wireless carriers that we looked at last year and this year, four of them increased their rating and four of them decreased their rating. U.S. Cellular (+16 points), Virgin Mobile (+3 points), MetroPCS (+2 points), and T-Mobile (+1 point) improved their scores, while TracFone (-4 points), AT&T (-4 points), Sprint (-2 points), and Verizon Wireless (-1 point) received lower scores in 2015 than in 2014.
  • U.S. Cellular experienced one of the most dramatic improvements in the Ratings, going up 16 percentage-points over the last year. This is following a 14-point decline between 2013 and 2014. In 2014, U.S. Cellular was the lowest-rated wireless carrier, with a rating of 46% and a rank of 264th out of 268 companies. This year it scored the industry average—62%—and placed 187th out of 293 companies.
  • U.S. Cellular increased each of its component scores more than any other wireless carrier, going up by 12 percentage-points for success, 16 points for effort, and an astounding 19 points for emotion.

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TracFone Leads Wireless Industry in 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings

We recently released the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings that ranks the customer experience of 268 companies across 19 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

TracFone continues its reign as the highest-rated wireless carrier for the fourth year in a row, earning a rating of 67% and placing 119th overall out of 268 companies across 19 industries. At the other end of the spectrum, US Cellular plunged down the ratings this year, descending from the middle of the pack in 2013 to the lowest-rated wireless carrier in 2014. US Cellular ultimately landed in 251st place overall with a 46% rating.

Download entire dataset for $395

Here are some additional findings from the airline industry: Read more of this post

Report: What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2014

1402_WhatHappensAfterGoodBadExperiences_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2014. The report, which includes 19 data charts, examines which companies and industries provide the most bad experiences, what impact those experiences have on spending, and how the negative impacts of bad experiences can be mitigated by good service recovery. The report also examines how consumers share their good and bad experiences with companies as well as with other people. Here’s the executive summary:

To understand the effect of good and bad experiences, we asked 10,000 U.S. consumers about their recent interactions with 268 companies across 19 industries. Results show that Internet services and TV services are the industries most likely to deliver a bad experience to their customers, while grocery chains are the least likely to. At the company level, Scottrade had the smallest percentage of customers reporting a recent bad experience with the company and Time Warner Cable had the highest. More than half of the customers who encountered a bad experience at a fast food chain, credit card issuer, grocery store, or hotel either decreased their spending with the company or stopped altogether. However, our data shows that a good service recovery effort can help mitigate a bad experience. Unfortunately, many firms—especially in the banking, Internet services, and TV services sectors—aren’t very good at service recovery. In addition to the consequences of bad interactions, we also examined which channels customers use to share their good and bad experiences and how these changed across age groups. We then compared these results to survey responses from the past two years. We also uncovered a negative bias inherent in how customers provide feedback. ING Direct, Residence Inn, and Fairfield Inn have the most negative bias in the feedback they receive directly from customers, while Hy-Vee and Hyundai have the most negative bias on Facebook. 

Click link to see full list of industries and companies covered in this report (.pdf).

Download report for $195

One of the most interesting analyses in the report is the look at how service recovery after a bad experience affects the spending pattern of consumers. Here’s a summary of one of the charts showing just how important it is for a company to recover well after making a mistake:


Here are some other insights from the research:

  • Sixteen percent of consumers who have interacted with TV service and Internet service providers report having a bad experience over the previous six months. Next on the list are wireless carriers, with 12% of their customers reporting a bad experience. At the other end of the spectrum, only 3% of consumers report a bad experience with grocery chains and 4% report having a bad experience with fast food chains.
  • The five companies with the most customers reporting bad experiences are Time Warner Cable (25%), Motel 6 (22%), Coventry Health Care (21%), and Comcast (21%). There were 10 companies with only 1% or less of their customers reporting bad experiences: Scottrade, Chick-fil-A, H.E.B., Whole Foods, ShopRite, ING Direct, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Vanguard, and True Value.
  • More than one-quarter of consumers who have a bad experience stop spending with computer makers, car rental agencies, credit card issuers, hotel chains, and software companies. The impact of bad experiences is less costly for parcel delivery services, wireless carriers, health plans, TV service providers, Internet service providers, and grocery chains, as less than 15% of their customers with bad experience stopped spending.
  • The industries that are the best at responding to a bad experience are investment firms, major appliances, retailers, and car rental agencies. The industries that are the worst at responding to a bad experience are TV service providers, wireless carriers, Internet service providers, parcel delivery services, and health plans.
  • Thirty-two percent of consumers give feedback directly to companies after a very bad experience and 23% give feedback after a very good experience.
  • Overall, 25- to 34-year-olds are the most likely to share feedback about their experiences. After a good experience 57% tell a friend directly, 28% share on Facebook, and 18% put a comment or rating on a review site. After a bad experience, 60% tell a friend directly, 31% share on Facebook, and 20% write a review.

Download report for $195

The bottom line: Make sure to recover quickly after a bad experience

50 CX Tips: eBook and Infographic

1310_50CXTips_COVERI recently completed a series of 50 customer experience (CX) tips. To make it easier for people to read and download all of the tips, I assembled them into a free eBook: 50 CX Tips: Simple Ideas, Powerful Results.

Each of the 50 CX Tips is aligned with one or more of Temkin Group’s four customer experience core competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness.

The CX Tips include examples from a wide variety of companies including Adobe,, Apple, BCBS of Michigan, Becker and Poliakoff, Big Lots, BMO Financial Group, Bombardier Aerospace, CDW, Charles Schwab, Citrix, Disney, EMC, Fidelity Investments, Hampton Inn, Hilton, IBM, Intersil, Intuit, JetBlue, Microsoft, Oklahoma City Thunder, Oracle, Safelite AutoGlass,, SanDIsk, SimplexGrinnell, Southwest Airlines, Sovereign Assurance of NZ, Sprint, Starbucks, Stream Global Services, Sam’s Club, USAA, VMware, and ZocDoc.
DownloadButton200wWhile you may have a hard time applying all 50 CX TIps, you should be able to identify several that will work for your organization. I challenge you to select three or more of the CX Tips to implement. Here’s an idea: Have each of your team members pick the five CX Tips that they think would be the most powerful for your organization. Use a team meeting to discuss everyone’s selections and pick the ones you want to implement.

We also created an infographic with the 50 CX tips. Here’s a version with the top 10 CX tips (click on the graphic to get a .pdf of the full infographic).

Top10CXTips_TemkinGroupThe bottom line: A handful of CX Tips can propel your customer experience.

Customer Experience From the C-Suite, With Dan Hesse

In case you missed it, (which would be nearly impossible if you read my blog, follow me on Twitter or receive the Temkin Group newsletter) yesterday was the first ever Customer Experience (CX) Day. It was a huge success as people around the world came together to “celebrate great customer experience and the people who make it happen.” The day started with a Google+ Hangout in Australia and ended with three in-person events on the U.S. west coast (part of the’s schedule of local events in 19 cities across 5 countries).

One of the highlights of my day was a webinar that I hosted with Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint (which you can watch on the site). It turns out that we are both alumni of MIT Sloan School (a little plug for our alma mater). The webinar with Dan provided a great opportunity to hear Sprint’s inspirational CX story and offered a glimpse into the mind of a CEO who really “gets CX.” Dan’s efforts at Sprint highlight many elements of Temkin Group’s four customer experience core competencies.

Here are some of my takeaways from our discussion:

Sprint is a huge CX success. When Dan took over as CEO of Sprint in December of 2008, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy. Dan was able to quickly shift the organization given the looming bankruptcy, as he said, “Never waste a good crisis.” By focusing on customer experience, the company has not only rebuilt the company, but Sprint has been the most improved company across all companies in the American Customer Satisfaction Index over the previous five years.

Focus on clear, consistent priorities. Dan states, and often reiterated, that the company focuses on three objectives: Improve the customer experience, Strengthen the Brand, and Generate cash. These were the priorities that he set when he started as CEO and they remain Sprint’s focus today. Concentrating on a consistent set of priorities helps an organization stay aligned and heading in the same direction

Attack root causes, not veneers. Dan explained that Sprint had two parts of its business, network and service. Network was much more expensive and slow to change, so he instead focused on service. They mainly focused on calls into customer care, which was happening at a much higher rate than the industry average. I liked when he said, “You can’t just throw money at a broken system.” He didn’t see the calls as the problem, but rather as a symptom of other problems around the organization. So Sprint systematically attacked the issues that were causing customers to call into customer care.

Great CX is Free. That’s the name of the customer experience manifesto that I published years ago. It builds on the core principles that if you fix problems early on in the process, you can save money while improving the end product. It turns out that Dan shared my focus on total quality as a key enabler of CX success, as evidenced by the fact that Sprint improved CX in its contact centers while cutting its contact center costs in half.

Leaders have two levers. Dan clearly understood what he needed to do to drive change across the organization. He knew that, as CEO, he had two levers to use:

  • Compensation. He tied he variable compensation of everyone in the company to the single key metric he was determined to improve, the number of calls into customer care.
  • His agenda. Dan knew that the company would focus on the things that he asked about during his staff meetings, so his agenda consistently covered customer experience. He always asked, “Why are customers leaving?” Because his staff knew he would be asking about it, they consistently worked with their organization to prepare an answer, causing the concentration on CX to cascade across the organization.

Employees are key ingredient to success. Dan discussed a couple of Sprint’s efforts to engage employees in the process. The company has what it calls “Thank You Thursdays,” during when employees across the company take the time to write handwritten thank-you notes to customers (this was Tip #30 in my 50 CX Tips). In 2012, they wrote 500,000 of these notes. Dan also described a program called “Social Media Ninjas” where employees around the company volunteer to advocate for Sprint across social media channel. Sprint also has some other interesting employee engagement programs such as “Employees Helping Customers“ and “Employees Getting Customers,” that are worth reading about.

Retention trumps acquisition. I think the focus on customer acquisition, rather than customer retention, has played a huge role in of the lack of good customer experience across the entire telecom (and TV service) market. But when asked by an audience member about acquisition versus retention, Dan was clear about his priorities: Retention drives Sprint’s business because it drives word of mouth.

Predictive personalization in the future. When I asked Dan about what’s coming in the future, he discussed the need for companies to use the data that they have on customers to treat them each in a more customized way. He liked when I explained that his vision aligned with what we call Predictive Personalization, which is one of the eight future CX skills we’ve identified. He also discussed other trends for the future, such as “bricks & clicks” ominichannel and more self-service.

Simplicity is differentiating. When asked what accomplishment he was most proud of, Dan pointed to his integration of marketing and customer experience. He credits that connection with the creation of offerings like Sprint’s “Simply Everything.” As Dan said, “People will pay a premium for simplicity.” This led to a nice discussion on a key “hidden” benefit of simplification: repeatability and consistency.

The bottom line: Talking with Dan was a great way to celebrate CX Day

Raise Employee Performance With Inspirational Coaching

I was recently on a multi-city speaking tour with NICE Systems and had the pleasure of meeting Tequea “TQ” Batson, an operations manager at Sprint’s Denver contact center. She was a speaker with me at the Denver event.

TQ currently has about 185 direct reports at her contact center which has almost 600 employees overall. She has a track record of improving contact centers, and the Denver facility is one of the top performing sites across Sprint’s network. What’s her secret to success? Employee coaching. But not just any type of coaching. She practices what she calls Inspirational Coaching.

TQ has managed more than 2,000 contact center employees over her career and has never had to terminate any of them for performance issues. Her approach to Inspirational Coaching has reached every person. TQ’s story was so strong that I followed up with her to discuss her approach in more detail. Here’s what she told me…

What is Inspirational Coaching?

Here’s how TQ describes Inspirational Coaching:

Other people coach to what the business needs, which can be motivational because people come to work and want to do a good job. For me, I coach from what the person needs and find how the business can help them get there. If I give people what they need, then they automatically give me what I need, which is what the business needs. I create an atmosphere and environment where a person feels empowered to reach his or her desired level of accomplishment. I don’t want to own it. When they are empowered to do it themselves, and things change, then they can adjust and won’t need me to do it for them.”

How is Inspirational Coaching different?

Here’s how TQ compares three different types of coaching:

  • Intimidation: Employees temporarily meet minimum requirements.
  • Motivational: Employees exceed minimum requirements until the environment or situation changes.
  • Inspirational: Employees consistently excel and measure their performance against their best effort with no consideration to company requirements. They try and maintain their good results. They compete with themselves and want to be their best.

It’s All About Personal Accountability

TQ makes sure that people define their own plans. Since most people are not comfortable saying no, they may agree verbally to a goal that is given to them even if they are not mentally bought in. So nothing changes. If employees tell TQ that that they are going to do something, then they can’t get mad at her if it doesn’t happen. They can’t say that they don’t like the plan; they were the ones who said they were going to do it.

The Secret to Inspirational Coaching: Ask Rather Than Tell

TQ says that your job as a coach is to ask the questions that make the employee aware of how their actions are affecting their desired results. You don’t want the employee defending herself, because then she has to support her defensiveness and defend her behavior. TQ wants to get an employee to say (and recognize) how her behaviors are affecting her goals. She keeps asking those questions to keep employees from defending their behaviors. TQ was clear on this point: You can’t coach someone who’s defending her behavior.

When it comes to giving feedback, TQ focuses on what is observable and how it relates to the actions they said they would take. After employees develop a plan, TQ asks them how they think those actions will impact their performance. She doesn’t talk about the employees’ attitudes or her evaluations of them.

TQ believes that if you focus on results (instead of observable employee behaviors), then employees will look at all of the environmental issues as excuses for their actions. If you stay focuses on the actions, then none of the other issues come up and they don’t blame the situation. If an employee said that something would work for him, then TQ keeps the discussion focused solely on why it is or isn’t working or why the employee isn’t doing that he said he would.

Here’s my favorite quote from TQ: “I use corrective action as a tool, not a punishment. It’s not that TQ is being mean.”

Visit TQ’s new website for more information.

The bottom line: Engage employees with Inspirational Coaching

USAA On Top of 2013 Temkin Customer Service Ratings

We just released the third annual Temkin Customer Service Ratings of 235 companies across 19 industries based on a study of 10,000 U.S. consumers (see full list of firms).

Download entire dataset for $295

Company Results

Here are some company highlights:


  • USAA earned the top two spots for its insurance and banking businesses. Other companies at the top of the ratings are credit unionsAce HardwareCharles SchwabDollar TreeChick-fil-ASonic Drive-InHy-VeeCostcoTrader Joe’s, Advantage, Publix, and H.E.B.
  • TV service providers and Internet service providers earned nine out of bottom 10 spots in the ratings.
  • For the second straight year, Charter Communications took the bottom spot. The rest of the firms in the bottom five are Time Warner CableCox CommunicationsOptimum (i/o), and CareFirst.
  • The following companies earned ratings that were 15 or more points above their industry averages: USAA (insurance and banking), Alaska Airlines, credit unions, Advantage, Kaiser Permanente, TriCare, Charles Schwab, and Bright House Networks.
  • Five companies earned ratings that were 15 or more points below their industry averages: Apple Stores, US AirwaysRadioShack, HSBC, and 21st Century.
  • Twenty-three percent of companies earned “strong” or “very strong” ratings, while 37% earned “weak” or “very weak” ratings.

Temkin Group also examined year-over-year results for the 171 companies that were in both the 2012 and 2013 Temkin Customer Service Ratings and found that:

  • Forty-four percent of companies improved their ratings while 47% experienced a decline.
  • Twenty companies showed double-digit increases, led by: Citibank (banking and credit cards), U.S. Bank, Hyundai, Nissan, Old Navy, Charles Schwab, Continental Airlines, and Piggly-Wiggly.
  • Eleven companies showed double-digit decreases, led by: LG, Giant Eagle, Toshiba, Cox Communications, ING Direct, and Budget.

Industry Results

Here are some industry highlights:


  • Grocery chains, retailers, and fast food chains earned the highest average Temkin Customer Service Ratings, while TV service providers, Internet service providers, wireless carriers, and health plans earned the lowest ratings.
  • On average, credit card issuers, banks and fast food restaurants improved the most while appliance makers, TV service providers and investment firms declined the most.

Calculating the Temkin Customer Service Ratings

During January 2013, Temkin Group asked 10,000 U.S. consumers to identify the companies that they had interacted with on their websites during the previous 60 days. These consumers were asked the following question:

Thinking back to your most recent customer service interaction with these companies,
how satisfied were you with the experience?

Responses from 1= “very dissatisfied” to 7= “very satisfied”

For all companies with 100 or more consumer responses, we calculated the “net satisfaction” score. The Temkin Customer Service  Ratings are calculated by taking the percentage of consumers that selected either “6” or “7” and subtracting the percentage of consumers that selected either “1,” “2,” or “3.”

Download entire dataset for $295

Temkin Ratings website

To see all of the companies in the Temkin Customer Service Ratings as ell as all of our other Temkin Ratings and sort through the results, visit the Temkin Ratings website

The bottom line: TV service providers deliver terrible customer service

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