Customer Dissatisfaction Is the Primary Goal

Talk About Bass-Akwards Product Development...

February 2, 2005

When a new design is manufactured for the service providers, prior to its release, they receive the phone for testing and determination of what features and software they will include with the phone. customerservice@lge.com

i.e. The phone manufacturer cannot tell you the features of a phone they manufacture because the features it has (including whether it can connect to a PDA or computer for transfer of phone book or other data) is controlled by the service provider - in fact, this can even change if you switch providers with the same phone! (Provided that the phone can be transferred between providers.)

What this results in is a consistently mediocre and unusable product coming out of cell phone plants. The hardware manufacturers should start listening to customers, not to service providers. If the service providers have to limit themselves to just a phone that does nothing, because that's the only on that meets their needs, then they will start buying phones that could be construed as usable.

The mobile service providers, on the other hand, argue that if they sold phones that were easy to use and that had features that customers wanted, cell revenues from services such as text messaging and picture messaging would drop. What? no. There are a lot of people out there that want to take a picture on their phone and then spend a quarter to send it to someone else's phone or to someone's email address. (No, really, there are.) I'm not one of these people.

I'm not one of these people. When a rep from my cell provider told me that though they didn't carry any phones that could be connected to a computer to edit the phone book or to transfer images or sounds one way or another, instead you could just use the service (at $0.25 per pop) to transfer the image or whatever, which was so much easier. I think that's the same way it's easier to get to work by dragging myself naked on my belly rather than driving.

This is a clear indication of disinterest on both the part of the cell phone manufacturers and the mobile phone service providers to provide bad customer experiences.

It seems that their primary goal is not only to drive you to another network, but to make the process of switching to another network so painful that no matter what the conditions were before and after the switch, there is no risk of a customer returning after switching.

This probably explains the high contract termination fees.

If the cell phone hardware manufacturers were interested in customer service and customer satisfaction, they would do three things:

  1. Make phones with the features that customers - that is to say end users - wanted, and forget about the service providers.
  2. Make their phones easier to use for basic features that the majority of people want.
  3. Work on making network independent phones, so you could easily take your phone with you from provider to provider.

If the cell phone service providers were interested in customer service, there's a few things they would do as well:

  1. Work on standardizing networks to make it easier for customers to switch providers.
  2. Stock and sell phones with the features that customers want, not the features that make the phones unusable and force people to use unwanted and expensive network features (keep the features available for those people who want them, but don't force people to have a bad experience with your service any time they want to use the functionality of their phone.
  3. Work on building good relationships with their customers so that the customers would not WANT to leave.
  4. Work on improving their network and services so that the customers would not HAVE to leave.

Of course, the executives at most mobile phone service providers and at most cell phone manufacturers aren't smart enough to see this. They think that by providing barriers to customer attrition, they will prevent loss of customers. When, in fact, (to paraphrase Princess Leia,) "the more you tighten your grip, the more customers slip through your fingers." If, on the other hand, they started trying to make customers not hate them - or better yet - make customers like them, the fact that it is easier to switch would not be an issue, because fewer people would want to do so.

Of course, this would also have the benefit to the manufacturer's of lowering production and development of new phones, because they don't have to build a different variant of each model for each manufacturer, and worry about how to endable to disable features when the phone is sold or activated.

For the service providers, this would be beneficial because they can sell more phones and get more customers - and they won't be driving as many customers away. Their cost of providing services should decrease, meaning their profits should increase. By providing better service than the next guy, they can lure customers away from their competitors, further improving their business. In addition, if the system were just cleaned up a little, the providers who have the cool new phones that are network independent in stock could make a killing on those phones, even with people who have service on another network. Just think. Quick sale, money up front, no hassles, no expenses - and if the customer liked the experience, they may come back and sign up for something that can really make you money...

Really, not doing this shows that both the service providers and the manufacturers have an active interested in hurting both their own top line and their own bottom line.