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(ARA) – Most of us love our wireless phones. The companies that provide our wireless service, however … well, not so much, according to a new survey.

While most American cell phone users are happy with their phones, they have plenty of gripes with their wireless providers. Respondents to a survey by U.S. Cellular cited among their top complaints the need to repeatedly sign contracts whenever they upgrade to a new phone, waiting out a two-year contract to get a new phone, overages and the big bills that come with them, and early termination fees. And while it would seem that with so many cellular companies in the marketplace, competition would inspire them to differentiate themselves, Americans generally perceive carriers to be pretty much all the same when it comes to the type of service plans and customer service they provide.

“Mobile devices have become ubiquitous worldwide,” says Mary Dillon, president and CEO of U.S. Cellular. “Yet there’s a definite love-hate element to our relationship with our phones and service providers. And cell phone companies haven’t been doing a very good job of responding to demand with products and services people really want and can use, our survey shows.”

Among the other enlightening (if not surprising) results of the survey:

  • 90 percent said wireless providers should earn a customer’s loyalty, not require it by forcing them to sign a contract;
  • 87 percent think they shouldn’t have to sign a service contract to stay with their current wireless provider;

  • 80 percent want wireless providers to do something about overage fees and the hefty bills they cause; and

  • 75 percent believe that free cell phones are a lure that traps you into required contracts and early termination fees.

“The wireless service industry should begin acting on these insights to offer customers the kind of wireless experience they feel will serve them best,” Dillon says.

Among the changes customers say they would welcome are:

  • Eliminating repeated contracts. U.S. Cellular has launched a product that features “One and Done” contracts. After their first contract expires, customers need never sign another with the carrier.
  • Initiate robust rewards programs with points that never expire and allow you to get a new phone as early as every 10 to11 months.

  • Institute overage protection, caps and forgiveness to protect customers from shockingly high bills.

  • Offer a phone replacement plan that replaces or provides a similar handset for customers whose phones are damaged or malfunction – even if the phone is no longer under warranty.

  • Reward customers for setting up auto pay and paperless billing by offering a percentage off their monthly wireless bills.

  • “Our survey and deep customer research revealed such strong customer sentiment regarding the ways wireless providers could improve service, that we decided to launch The Belief Project, which is designed to specifically address customer’s concerns and provide them with the changes in service they desire,” Dillon says. “The Belief Project is an array of industry-first initiatives that emphasize a human relationship with customers, rather than a contractual one. Customers want to stay with their wireless provider not because they have to but because they want to.”

    To learn more about wireless service innovations, log on to www.USCellular.com.

    • U.S. Cellular launches customer service campaign (knoxnews.com)
    • U.S. Cellular Joins Mobile Loyalty Galore (businessweek.com)
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    Author: Andy Quayle

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