Young wireless services customers don't play the loyalty card, Forrester finds

While older customers remain satisfied with in-store service, consumers under 42 are likely to switch, according to new Forrester research.

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Age matters when it comes to customer expectations and satisfaction with wireless providers. Telecoms will need to pay attention to demographics if they want to retain young consumers.

Those are the conclusions of a wireless customer relationship snapshot report from Forrester, which found that older customers are more likely to believe that carriers are meeting their needs, while Generation Y talkers are the most likely to switch carriers. The report found that only 57% of Generation Y (18-27) customers are reluctant to switch providers, whereas 79% of seniors (63+) responded that they were unlikely to leave their operator.

Bruce Temkin, a vice president with Forrester and author of the report, wrote that customers over the age of 50 were the most satisfied overall, and consumers younger than 42 scored their carriers low on most items.

"Wireless carriers may need to focus on the needs of younger consumers, who tend to be the most active users of wireless services," the report stated. On a bright note, although Generation Y and X users were the least loyal, the report also found -- a bit counterintuitively -- that they got the most enjoyment from their poor experiences.

"I think Gen Y cares more about enjoyment and is therefore more in tune with that attribute," Temkin wrote in an email. "Even though Gen Y gives higher enjoyment rankings, they might be better served by raising the enjoyment levels of wireless interactions."

Temkin wrote that consumers would remain disloyal if carriers are difficult to work with.

The report looked at a variety of criteria, including customer service interactions through stores, on the phone, and over the Web, as well as overall metrics such as how well the service meets the customer need.

The report is the eighth in Forrester's "Value of Customer Relationships" series.

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