I came across an article yesterday afternoon from Matthew Miller, a ZDNet Contributor and T-Mobile customer whom I also had the pleasure of meeting this week at CES. Miller’s post highlights five simple recommendations for T-Mobile in 2012 to help solidify their user base and re-establish themselves as a player in the US wireless market. T-Mobile highlighted at their 2012 CES event that they continue to expand their HSPA+ coverage, rollout new devices and heavily focus their message on value, value and value. Like Miller, we believe those are all good approaches, but there is more T-Mobile can do to stay competitive and become an underdog nipping at the heels of Sprint.
T-Mobile’s Chief Executive painted a picture for T-Mobile to work furiously to keep customers and while some of their ideas have been revealed, there is still a lot of work to be done. So what can T-Mobile do? Here’s what Miller thinks they can do and we have to say, we agree on all 5 points.
- Shared Family Data: This one is a little tougher to sell, especially since Humm just went on the record with the New York Times saying Shared Family Data wouldn’t be coming to T-Mobile. That being said, a rightly priced shared data plan could end up boosting T-Mobile’s place as a value carrier, especially with the industry leaders AT&T and Verizon planning on introducing their own shared family data plans later this year.
- Notification To Primary Account Holder Before ANY Account Actions Are Taken: Yup, we’re looking at you billing date changes and pay-per-use data charges introduced in 2011. The good news is T-Mobile acknowledges these mistakes and plans to make it a major part of reducing churn in 2012. Miller recommends T-Mobile start a policy where NO actions or changes to the account are made without the permission of the primary account holder.
- Remove Upgrade Free: Yeah we get it, this fee is an industry staple. T-Mobile should do away with them, making upgrading a seamless and inexpensive experience. The only charge to the customer should be that of the equipment they are purchasing. If they don’t want to do away with them altogether, do away with the fee for long-time customers to help cut churn and encourage upgrades.
- Loyal Customer Upgrade Bonuses: T-Mobile, along with almost every carrier in the US lets customers receive a full subsidy on a new phone once every two years. Sometimes those discounts begin at 20-22 months. Unfortunately the timeframe for the introduction of new phones is super fast today and well below the 24 month timeframe that sounded good at the time the standard upgrade cycle was introduced years ago. How about 12 month upgrades? How about a program similar to Verizon’s former New Every Two program which offered a $100 discount on upgrades for two-year contracts?
- Work With Apple To Get The iPhone On Their Network: Yeah I know, you’re tired of hearing about the iPhone…we’ve been talking about it a lot this week. Except, if T-Mobile potentially sold 1 million iPhone’s to their 33 million customers, that’s a big deal. An even bigger deal would be the customers who wouldn’t leave because the iPhone is on the network. We make a big deal out of having the iPhone, because T-Mobile’s CEO says the iPhone is the single biggest influencer of T-Mobile’s churn.
There are other additions we could make to this list, and we recognize that some of you will agree to disagree about these 5 recommendations. The point is, we’re trying to show T-Mobile what the end-user thinks, and where frustrations truly exist. What do you think? What would you add to this list?