Smartphone makers (and even those who make more traditional, feature-phone handsets) would be wise to incorporate easy access to social networks if they want to increase customer satisfaction.
According to the latest Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power and Associates, owners who used their devices to access social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook had higher satisfaction rates (783 on a 1,000-point scale, about 22 points higher) than those who do not often access the sites on their handsets. (Although social media usage for traditional phone owners is lower, rates among those who access the sites from their handsets also reported higher customer satisfaction.)
Those higher satisfaction rates can generally be attributed to an overall ease-of-use for the phones, says Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services for J.D. Power. According to the study, consumers who engage in mobile social media activity are also more likely to use their phones more often for calls, texts and data, are more likely to purchase additional wireless services in the future and are more likely to provide positive recommendations for their handset brand and service provider.
"When [consumers] first started using these sites on these devices, it wasn't as easy. All these new applications and software make it much, much easier to be connected on your own," Parsons tells Marketing Daily. "If there is any service that makes it easier to use their cell phone, there's a positive impact [in] that you feel better about your device -- use it more -- and the wireless provider."
Among smartphone manufacturers, Apple continued its dominance over all others, scoring 795 on the 1,000-point index. Motorola and HTC, which make phones that run on Google's Android platform, were second and third with relatively equal scores of 763 and 762, respectively. The rankings show that Apple continues to understand what consumers want from their phones, Parsons says.
"They up the ante every time," Parsons says.
Meanwhile, as smartphone penetration continues to increase, the price of traditional phones is declining. According to the study, the average price of a traditional phone in 2011 is $73, compared with $81 at the beginning of 2009. Nearly half (46%) of owners said they received a free mobile phone when subscribing to a wireless service -- a historical high.