How carriers can set themselves apart in today's competitive landscape
In an ongoing effort to keep up with their closest competition, the Big Four -- T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon -- have continually innovated and directed wireless industry trends over the years.
As such, the challenge of an ever-evolving carrier landscape has made it increasingly difficult for regional carriers to keep pace. But, with a little creativity and perseverance, regional carriers still have opportunities to stand out.
Utilize additional revenue lines
Broadly, one of the primary challenges for all wireless carriers is that consumers are now keeping devices longer, at an average of nearly three years. Who can blame them with phone prices on the rise? The latest iPhone, for example, rings in at a whopping $1,000. And since customers are now visiting stores to upgrade less often, it reduces the opportunity for regular interaction consumers might have with carriers every few years. With customer touchpoints limited, wireless carriers should tap in to tools like warranty protection plans. Not only can warranty products provide added value for customers looking to protect devices long term, but they can also generate additional carrier revenue.
Embrace your niche
While it’s easy for smaller, regional carriers to get caught up in the news of major industry changes -- like Sprint and T-Mobile merging, or the hype around 5G rollouts -- it’s essential that they not get distracted and focus on highlighting the advantages of their business. Regional carriers have a unique opportunity to connect with their community in ways the Big Four can’t. By embracing that niche position, they can provide innovative offerings and programs for their local customer base. A great example is a regional carrier who equips remote school buses with Wi-Fi capabilities so students can complete assignments during their long rides home. Large carriers don’t have the resources to offer these services to rural communities, and aren’t nimble enough to devote time to build these kinds of close customer relationships.
Focus on the customer
With so many options on the market, it’s important to ensure customers feel valued -- it’s an investment of effort that builds long-term loyalty… and revenue. In fact, when customer retention increases by just five percent, companies can see up to a 95 percent increase in profit. It’s essential for regional carriers to prioritize their customer relationship strategy. With a specific customer base to focus on, regional carriers can offer a more personalized service experience, utilizing approaches like custom social media messaging or encouraging call center employees to go off-script. These kinds of locally-focused efforts can keep customers coming through the door long-term.
At the end of the day, there’s no reason for regional carriers to be intimidated by the Big Four. By focusing on customer relations and how they can uniquely serve their community, regional carriers can enjoy unique advantages versus their bigger competitors.
Jon Mikow is Vice President of Wireless at Fortegra Financial Corporation (a Tiptree Inc. company). Fortegra and its subsidiaries comprise a single-source insurance services provider that offers a range of consumer protection options including warranty solutions, credit insurance, and specialty underwriting programs. Delivering multifaceted coverage with an unmatched service experience for domestic and international partners and their customers, Fortegra solves immediate, everyday needs, empowering consumers to worry less and Experience More.