Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM ET
With more mobile phones in the hands of consumers than ever before, good support and customer service is paramount. A new study, from consumer survey firm J.D. Power and Associates, puts Verizon at the top of the carrier pile for the third year in a row when it comes to addressing customers' issues.
The study examines how the major carriers performed in the past year when carrying out services or solving problems via three main channels: Retail, telephone and online. J.D. Power surveyed 7,332 customers for the early 2013 edition.
In 2008 and 2009, T-Mobile was the one to beat, leading the rest particularly in retail experience. But Verizon took the lead in 2010 and hasn't yielded since. The study suggests that the company's automated phone service and representatives are superior to the others. It makes sense that automation is the new customer-service battleground. After all, it's essential for any carrier with tens of millions of customers, let alone Verizon and AT&T, which each have over 100 million.
The report also noted that an increasing number of people are using the online chat function to solve their problems, and were best satisfied on those occasions. It's understandable — why choose the labyrinth of touch-tone options on a phone system over a quick click in the browser?
T-Mobile, the former champ, has fallen. This year, it was overtaken by AT&T and Sprint as well as Verizon, ending up at the bottom of the list this year by a considerable margin. J.D. Power didn't specify what caused the company to fall so far behind after its years of leading the pack.
More information, and links to other studies, can be found at the J.D. Power and Associates website.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.