I’ve recently learned that my mobile phone service provider had a limit on how much they were willing to sacrifice to keep me as a customer. It was $32 per month.

If you’re like me, you tend to be loyal to the service brands that help keep your life moving. Chances are your bank, your cellular provider, and your cable provider stay the same, year after year, and even move after move. For me, I tend to stay loyal simply due to the hassle of “change”.

I’ve got a tipping point to entertaining the uncomfortable process of change though, and here’s my brief experience on how it went with my cellular provider.

For the last year, I’ve felt that I’m getting overcharged for my mobile phone service. We’ve got six lines currently, one for me, my wife, and four of our six kids. The monthly bill had been large for some time and kept inching up. As a budget-conscious person, I hit the tipping point and felt the time was right to explore some options.

I shopped around online, via phone, and in person at three of the other major telecoms providers in the US. It was pretty easy to build a matrix of costs for lines, data and equipment, and I enjoyed the banter with sales staff in-person and online.

In a side-by-side comparison of the details, there were a couple compelling options I’d not been aware of, which made my current carrier come up lacking. Culturally, I learned a couple things too, from the mood of the telesales agents (some were more articulate than others) and demeanor of in-store agents (ranging from distracted to eager to solve my problems), to the physical store experiences (I was surprised at the lack of foot traffic at a couple, compared to others; plus experienced a notable disconnect on what telesales agents could offer compared to in-store agents – more on that in a minute).

Armed with this new gathered information, I went back to my current provider for the “I’m thinking of leaving” conversation. What transpired next was very interesting.

Given my 18 years with the provider, and my steadily increasing amount of money spent with them monthly, I felt justified in asking for a resetting of our relationship. I’d found a couple providers willing to give me the same or more services than I currently have at $90 – $120 less per month.

I explained this to the agent on the phone, and asked for a $100 reduction in my monthly bill to stay with them. After some scripted comments, the agent asked for a minute of hold time to check with management on what could be done. After a couple minutes, I was informed that a $32 per month discount was the best they could do for me. I replied that it was an admirable start, but we needed to get closer to $100, since I had been able to locate some alternatives closer that price point.

What the agent said next was telling: “well, sir, if that’s what you can get elsewhere, you should take it; I’m sorry, but there’s nothing else I’m able to do here on my side.”

I thanked the agent, then hung up, and called my new provider, who quickly ported our numbers over and activated a new service agreement which I expect will save us $1,200 per year. I’m awaiting my final bill from my previous provider, which my new provider will reimburse me for. That administrative step should happen by the end of February.

Goodbye 18-year long relationship and thousands of dollars in future revenue; and hello new provider and the anticipation of less money spent for similar service!

Omni-channel opportunities missed

In all that give and take, I saw a few things begging for an integrated, omni-channel approach.

The first was the channel disconnects that I saw in each provider I visited. At each provider, the offers I got in-store were different to those available to me on-line and through the call center. This is a sure-fire way to confuse your customers and miss cross-sell opportunities. For example, if I can get better deals on-line or via the call center, it’s easier for me to buy the essentials, skip the accessory offers and just buy accessories at another online retailer. It’s easier for me to buy accessories in store, where they are on display and I get an in-person invitation to buy a few things, like a case, screen protector and other goodies, but from my experience there’s no easy way to get the best deal in-store today.

The second was a knowledge gap with my current provider agents. Didn’t they have any interaction history on me to anticipate and ready a variety of retention offers when I finally called in? I’d been on my account page on a few occasions, reviewing my agreement, steps for discontinuing service, and SIM card information. Wasn’t there a range of offers to try to keep me on board with them?

The power of an active decision engine is that it captures customer activity, appends it to an interaction history, and most importantly, gives a series of next best actions to whichever channel the customer is in - whether that’s online, talking with a call center agent, or a retail location agent. The agent can take these reactive steps to offer increasing levels of service, discount, or some combination to keep a customer on board.

If the agent has these tools available and chooses not to use them, that’s a third missed opportunity: underutilization of existing decisioning tools is just as bad as not having them at all!

So there’s my experience. If you’ve got the time and inclination, you can easily chisel out some dollars from your current provider. Who knows, you may be worth more than $32 per month to your current carrier. You won’t know if you don’t ask. Feel free to reach out to me and I’ll share specifics on which carrier I joined and which one I left. I’d be interested to hear your experiences as well. I’m at marcus.wagstaff@cometgc.com

Thanks for reading!

Marcus Wagstaff

Vice President of Business Development at Comet Global Consulting

Marcus leads the business development function for Comet in North America, focusing on building new client relationships and growing mutual successes with Comet’s technology partners. With over 20 years’ experience selling customer experience solutions in the healthcare, insurance, and life sciences industries, Marcus helps clients achieve their visions, enabled by technology. Marcus holds a degree in Management with an emphasis in International Marketing from Brigham Young University.