AT&T vs Verizon – A seriously improved customer experience?


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Much will be written about the battle of the titans  - AT&T vs. Verizon!   Thanks, of course, to AT&T’s lost monopoly on the Iphone.

AT&T will argue they have a “faster” customer experience and Verizon will suggest they are more “reliable.”

In the end, prices should come down on Iphone data plans and features should increase (for example, the Verizon version of the phone will serve as a wifi router for 5 other devices); thus, consumers will win by having choice.

But here are two lessons that will not be front and center in the media:

1) Assume you are not a monopoly.  I remember Seth Godin asking “what would you do if a competitor came in and undersold you by 20%?  In his hypothetical, it is assumed you don’t have the margin to price match the new competitor, so how would you retain your current customers?”  Seth’s wisdom is reflected in the notion that whatever you would do in the face of a price-trimming competitor you should do before any such competitor appears.  The more you can do for customers before you get in a “price war” the less likely a competitor will enter your market in the first place.

2) The choice between Verizon and AT&T is a small step.  Ultimately, the cell phone industry needs to find a price structure that generates “good profit.”  By good profit, I mean revenue that is a win for the company and a win for the customer.  Both AT&T and Verizon, for example, are working together to defeat legislation that would require them to let customers know when the customer’s rate plan does not fit the customer’s usage.  Sadly, much of the profit in the mobile phone industry come from trapping customers with so-called “free” devices, assessing early termination fees, and having customers who habitually pay their bills without challenging the companies to see if their is a better plan for them.

I am not speaking for or against either Verizon or AT&T, I am simply suggesting that there is plenty of room in the mobile phone industry to find a business model that offers “a seriously improved customer experience.”

Can the same be said in your industry?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


  1. You know you’ve got a problem when Jon Stewart “features” you on The Daily Show!,2817,2375631,00.asp

    My take is that iPhone buyers are not looking for low price — else they’d be using some other device.

    And they love the iPhone so much they’re willing to put up with reliability problems.

    But now that Verizon has arrived, it will force AT&T to upgrade its service quality, or risk losing customers. Maybe a faster network will help attract new customers considering both, but existing AT&T customers that have experienced spotty service are prime subjects to leave.

    I’m sure AT&T was well aware that the day would come when their iPhone monopoly would end. The question is — why didn’t they fix service quality sooner?


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