With their large subscriber bases, wireless providers have incredible opportunities to drive innovation in customer service and loyalty. They can offer superior personalization experiences, not only for their own business but also through third party partnerships.
If Abraham Maslow were writing today, connectivity would almost certainly be found on his Hierarchy of Needs. Most of our professional lives–and, increasingly, our personal lives–could not be transacted without the aid of our smartphones or data-tethered laptops and tablets. Consumers expect perfection in the core services and customer support they receive from their carriers.
With the maturation of the smartphone market, many consumers have just bought or are preparing to buy their second device. These are more seasoned and experienced consumers, who have a much better idea of what they are looking for than they did the first time around. They are ready and willing to switch carriers, devices, and/or platforms if it means increased performance, better service, or other perks.
Ironically, despite the fact that there are more connected devices than ever, carriers are finding it tough to stay competitive. The network demands of smartphones have necessitated increased infrastructure costs, while the rise of the No Contract has increased customer acquisition and retention costs. Smart carriers can still thrive, differentiating themselves through brand image, value added services, and exclusive product offerings.
Service experience excellence
With multi-year contracts and early termination fees a thing of the past, wireless providers are under closer consumer scrutiny than ever before. Consumers are asking, What’s in it for me? With such large user bases, even “small” wireless carriers can find themselves challenged when it comes to providing consistently positive consumer experiences. Users with simple questions about their service or bill could find themselves lost in a labyrinth of FAQs and crowdsourced community posts, only to emerge from the experience no more sure of what the answer to their question is or, worse, with more questions.
Wireless companies have the opportunity to not only streamline customer experiences but make them excellent. One way to do this is with a superlative mobile app–that is, one that delivers well-designed utility to the consumer. A quick perusal of wireless carriers’ mobile apps, however, turns up a lot of 2 and 3 star ratings. Common complaints include lack of functionality and difficulty of use, which end up reflecting poorly on the brand. Time must be taken to ensure that a mobile app is not a mere re-skin of a web portal but that it is a superbly planned and executed experience.
With their access to consumer data and location, wireless providers are uniquely positioned to partner with brands and organizations who wish to more deeply understand their customers and offer incredible experiences. We are at the beginning of the rise of hyper-local, in which wireless providers will play a huge part by seeking out the right relationships.This might be a retailer that’s looking to surface contextual offers to their customers. It could be a restaurant that wants to learn more about its clientele to tailor a summer menu to them. Whatever the context, wireless providers have the opportunity to help connect businesses with the information they seek.
Over the past few years, many North American carriers have started offering no-contract plans and unlocked phones. Both are huge wins for consumers, but it begs the question: Why stay with a carrier?
Forward-thinking carriers have responded by implementing loyalty programs, such as
C Spire’s PERCS, Verizon’s customer retention plans, and Rogers’ First Rewards. Still, wireless loyalty programs are a rarity, and carriers like Sprint Nextel and AT&T both had short-lived programs they ultimately shut down. Frankly, this is puzzling since according to WDS’s Loyalty Audit, “36% of U.S. customers are considering leaving their mobile carrier in the next 12 months.”1 As Tim Deluca-Smith of WDS points out:
Loyalty means more than just a customer’s intent to repurchase. Based on our research, this is only as good as the next handset subsidy or price discount. True loyalty creates customers who are forgiving when things go wrong and resistant to competitive offers…It seems carriers are failing to create a feeling of “value” and “reward” among many of their customers. 40 percent of those at risk of switching felt they weren’t valued or rewarded. In fact, the data shows that if a customer doesn’t feel valued then they are more than twice as likely to be at risk of switching carriers.
Loyalty programs cannot be treated as marketing bolt-ons, with an offer here, a discount there. Rather, they need to be treated as their own product. As discussed in the Retail section, loyalty programs can give happy customers the opportunity to be brand ambassadors, particularly if there’s a strong referral mechanism in place.
Examples of our work in Wireless
- We were tasked with helping a wireless provider create an experience that energized their members with a brand new loyalty rewards program app. We strategized, designed, and engineered an app that includes a mix of innovative UI elements, gamified rewards, and deep functionality to turn users into active evangelists. The iPhone and Android Apps have been have received extremely high reviews, exhibiting unheard of levels of customer satisfaction in the wireless space.
- We helped a large, regional telecommunications company build a new content recommendation business. We designed and engineered a mobile app that had a clean, natural interface with exemplary UX and UI design, featuring intuitive gesture controls and zero buttons for all its primary interactions.