telecom

No Trailblazers (Or Even Leaders) Among Wireless Brands

Wireless companies need to work harder to establish emotional connections with consumers, because none of them are doing it particularly well. 

According to an evaluation of wireless brands by Forrester, no wireless brand can be considered a “Trailblazer” or “Leader” on the company’s TRUE (for Trust, Remarkable, Unmistakable and Essential) rating scale. Among the big four wireless brands, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are considered “Follower” brands, while Sprint is a “Laggard.”

Much of the problem stems from a legacy business mindset of locking consumers into long-term contracts, and not providing much else in the way of continuing customer service, says Tracy Stokes, Forrester’s principal analyst for CMOs. 

“It’s an old mentality of locking in contracts that prevails,” Stokes tells Marketing Daily. “Once you’ve got them in the door, you’re not so focused on providing great service.”

The marketplace, however, has changed, giving consumers access to much more information about their contract terms in relation to other plans, requiring a greater focus on customer relations and experience, Stokes says. 

“Brands have to make more of an emotional connection with consumers than ever,” she says. “They key piece is having a consistent experience with every [customer] interaction with their brand.”

AT&T and Verizon manage to earn strong markets for overall brand health, and T-Mobile is “punching above its weight,” according to the report. The brand has garnered attention for making moves — such as eliminating contracts and identifying pain points — that put the customer experience first, Stokes says. 

While others have begun to follow T-Mobile’s lead (such as AT&T’s recent announcement of rollover data plans), the legacy models are likely holding them back, Stokes says

“You’re starting to see [others] follow suit,” she says. “The biggest challenge is an infrastructure issue. They have fairly entrenched business models.”

As the group’s sole “Laggard” brand, Sprint, meanwhile, needs to do something that truly sets them apart from the other carriers and resonates with consumers, Stokes says. “Where they fall down is they’re not seen as essential,” she says. “They need to be focused on what makes them essential.”

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