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T-Mobile says it's best in customer satisfaction. Who's worst?

Commentary: The carrier touts two surveys that have it at the top for customer love. At the bottom, there's competition.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


T-Mobile CEO John Legere

T-Mobile's John Legere. Is his company satisfying customers?

James Martin/CNET

When you're loved, do you keep it to yourself, for fear the love will wane?

Or do you boast about it from the highest mountain top because, well, that's just who you are?

T-Mobile seems to be of the latter ilk. 

As the new year began, it took to its blog to crow about not one, but two surveys that deemed it the 2017 winner in regard to customer satisfaction.

In one survey, conducted by YouGov BrandIndex, T-Mobile had the happiest customers over all four quarters of the year. Once the Un-carrier released its "Netflix On Us" promotion, in September, the satisfaction score reached its peak, with T-Mobile achieving a positive rating 15 points above that of its nearest rival, Verizon.

In the other survey, the HarrisX consumer opinion tracker, T-Mobile's customer satisfaction score rose significantly during the year above those of its rivals.

While T-Mobile was leaping up and down, I found myself drifting to the basement. And I was fascinated by how, from one of these surveys to the other, the bottom of the pile differs.

YouGov ranks AT&T as having the least-satisfied customers for the first half of 2017. In the second half, however, it shows the carrier's scores perking up a little, until AT&T catches up with Sprint and shares the bottom slot for the final two quarters.

A rather different story is painted by HarrisX, however. Its survey has Sprint firmly on the bottom all year, with that company's satisfaction scores dipping even further toward the pit of despair over the last quarter of 2017.

Neither Sprint, AT&T nor Verizon responded to a request for comment.

As for T-Mobile CEO John Legere -- who often reminds me of the character Jack in those Jack in the Box ads -- he was modest in his reaction to surveys.

"The secret for having the happiest customers isn't a secret at all," he's quoted as saying in T-Mobile's blog post. "I've been yelling about it for years. Listen to customers, fix their pain points, give them a great deal and awesome coverage. You'd think even Dumb and Dumber would get it by now."

I confess that in my own visits to carrier stores at the end of last year, I found little difference in how I was treated. 

I certainly didn't walk out of the T-Mobile store skipping and singing a happier tune than when I walked out of the others' stores. 

I fancy, though, that T-Mobile has captured the imagination of the younger, more internet-focused types who are attached to their devices at the hand, as well as the hip.

Indeed, YouGov points out that T-Mobile customers tend to be younger and use the web as their primary source of information. 

Lord help them.

One thing T-Mobile seems to understand clearly is the need to create an emotional attachment to its users. Its brand image, one of customer-focused rebellion, has been well honed.

When you think of AT&T and Verizon, by contrast, you may well think of very large, slightly cold companies involved in far more than just phone service. 

And when you think of Sprint, well, what do you think exactly? Budget?