updated 11:55 am EST, Thu February 2, 2012
Apple and ATT get nods but in dim conditions
Apple and AT&T are leading computer and phone support in conditions that are still on the decline, Vocalabs found in a pair of studies of phone help quality. Apple was still out in front by a significant margin in computers, with 54 percent very satisfied to 49 percent of HP owners and 44 at Dell. The figure for Mac help was still down a full 19 points from the first half of 2010, however, where Dell and HP had always been at their lower levels.
Most of Apple's advantages continued to come from its refusal to outsource North American phone help. Mac owners were much happier with the support agents and had far fewer problems understanding the agent on the other end. Dell and HP are well-known for having been eager to outsource call help to India and the Philippines; their customers have encountered issues both with basic language barriers as well as agents that have less experience with the products they support.
There were also far fewer "ambush" costs with Apple, where surprise charges for help or parts crept into service. HP, for example, doesn't ship Windows restore discs by default and doesn't have Apple's Internet-based restore option, forcing customers to pay for Windows again or send a drive in if the restore data is lost.
The decline for Apple came from problems with the automatic parts of the call as well as the likelihood that a situation would be fixed while on the phone. Apple's technicians and its overall loyalty were still far higher: 82 percent would buy a Mac again, while 68 percent of HP buyers and just 60 percent of Dell owners would do the same. Apple had similar leads in overall satisfaction and willingness to recommend to someone else, possibly helped by its retail help.
Among cellphone carriers, AT&T was in the lead with 69 percent very satisfied, although mostly because alternatives had declined. Sprint (59 percent) and T-Mobile (48) saw double-digit slumps in satisfaction, while Verizon (60) was mostly neutral. The quality of agent help and the voice system were particular sore points for Sprint.
Cellphone carrier support rankings