New Research Reveals Priorities for Carrier Switchers

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Maybe a customer service representative didn't give you the level of service you expected. Maybe the data plans on offer don't meet your needs. Maybe your household income decreased and your cell phone bill is higher than you can afford. Whatever the reason may be, churn is a huge part of the wireless market in the United States. People switch carriers by the thousands on a daily basis, creating churn figures in the millions for some carriers during particularly bad quarters. While consumers all have their own reasons for jumping ship, and some may be signing up for their first wireless plan, some new data from Parks Associates gives a fairly good sample of what makes consumers tick when it comes to choosing a new carrier in the States.

As carriers priorities shift from increasing the average revenue per user to managing churn, consumers' priorities have been changing as well. For example, the two-year contract, long a staple of users who wanted to pay less upfront, is seen as important to only 23% of Parks Associates' data set. Consumers have largely turned their eyes from cost-saving to feature sets and maximizing bang for buck, especially when it comes to their data plans. Unlimited plans are hard to come by and tend to be expensive, so many consumers consider access to otherwise hidden Wi-Fi hotspots to be a big plus for signing up with a new carrier. Rollover data, which is well on its way to becoming an industry-wide feature, is also a big turn on.

Interestingly, a good number of consumers, about 60% of the data set, say that a customer loyalty program is important. Most carriers lack a proper long-term loyalty program per se, but offer customers big discounts after a certain amount of time, or initiatives like T-Mobile Tuesdays that extend to all customers. According to researchers, with churn increasing at an alarming rate due to the ease of switching afforded by the fall of the two-year contract, we're going to start seeing carriers rolling out more creative initiatives, going beyond the price wars, out-networking and out-featuring of yesteryear. According to these researchers, managing churn is going to become a crucial part of the wireless industry in the future.

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