Wireless Carriers Struggling With Consumer Expectations

The Big Four wireless carriers are having trouble living up to their brand promises, and it’s costing them customers. 

According to a study from Interakt, more than one-third of wireless customers have switched providers because they felt the carrier did not live up to promises the company had made. Another 13% said they were currently considering switching for that very reason. 

In fact, about 20% of the people surveyed said their carrier was “perfectly consistent” when it came to the promises made at enrollment, compared to their actual experience. 

“What the data show is a distinct disconnect between the brand promise and the brand experience,” Max Russell, lead of North American operations at Interakt, tells Marketing Daily. “What the study doesn’t reveal is where that disconnect happens. In our experience, it can happen at any customer touch point.” 



The failure, however, isn’t only with the promises made in-store or while signing new customers. Consumers also felt all four of the major carriers failed to live up to the images they present in their advertising. For T-Mobile, which scored the best, nearly a quarter of customers said the company’s image was inconsistent with their real-world experience. About a third felt the same way about Sprint and Verizon, while 37% said AT&T’s real-world experiences were inconsistent with the image conveyed in the brand’s advertising. 

As more consumers turn to social media to solve customer service issues, their expectations are also rising, according to the survey. More than two-thirds of customers said they felt a telecommunications company should respond to questions on Twitter within three hours. For the most part, the Big Four telecom companies have done a good job with this. AT&T only takes an average of 32 minutes to respond; T-Mobile took 35 minutes, on average. Sprint’s average response time is slightly longer than three hours. Verizon, however, has an average response time of 20 hours and 13 minutes. 

“The take-home lesson here is that consumer expectations are high and social media will only become more pervasive,” Russell says. “That says that today’s acceptable performance may be tomorrow’s performance failure.”

An inadequate response time on Twitter could cost the carriers customers. According to the research, nearly a third of consumers said they would consider switching providers if their customer support requests through social media went unanswered. 

That says loud and clear that a sound social media management strategy is a requisite for any business where response times are critical,” Russell says. “It also implies that the response has to be fast. Our experience also tells us it has to be right. The potential for a disgruntled customer to do major damage to the brand is exacerbated by the speed at which social media can spread the word of a bad brand experience worldwide.”

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