Smart Phone Love: Giving Customers What They Want Before They Know They Want It

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Even though there are new deals every day, owning a cell phone is not cheap. For a family of four, it’s not uncommon to spend more on phone and data plans than on water, electricity, and heat combined. Granted, many households are ditching their land lines and going completely mobile, which is a balance of sorts, but spending $200-$400 on a family plan is still somewhat daunting in the overall picture of things.

Two years ago, I got an LG Voyager and could not see why anyone would spend $30 extra a month per person for the privilege of having a smart phone. I was looking for form and function, my cell phone needs were few, and I could not justify the added expense unless I won the lottery or landed a windfall from a generous benefactor (neither have happened yet, but I remain hopeful). I liked (and still like) my Voyager, which is a versatile phone and handy texting tool, and I didn’t need more than that at the time.

Earlier this year, I had to get a popular semi-smart phone for work since my Voyager would not be much use to me overseas. I say “semi-smart” for a reason. It was great for managing my email, but I could not get past the frustration of the small screen and the slowness of the connection any time I tried to open up a website. I could not for the life of me see the attraction that consumers had to their smart phones and that made it easy for me to stick with my $100 family plan. I continued to use my Voyager for home and my semi-smart phone for work, and I was a pretty happy camper even though I was carting around two phones at all times.

This summer, it all fell apart. My resolve to stay away from the world of smart phones crumbled. It was the last sixty days of my two year cell phone commitment and I was eligible for a new phone. In fact, I had been eligible since January but felt no sense of urgency to part with my Voyager, so I kept putting it off. At the urging of my family, who knew that if I got a smart phone they would, too, I checked out the deals online but was not particularly moved one way or another. Then they got me inside the store. Big mistake. I found and fell in love with a smart phone that met all of my demands – great email features, integration with my work calendar, international capability, a good range of apps, and a fun surfing interface. I wasn’t the only one, either. In a never-before, likely never-again scenario, my whole family wanted the same phone. So I did what I always do when it comes to spending that kind of money – I left the store as quickly as possible.

Against my better judgment, we went back a week later and my son became the official family smart phone guinea pig. He ponied up half of the upgrade cost and my husband and I covered the rest. That earned me the right to pepper my son with questions over the next month, and on heavily supervised occasions, I was actually allowed to pick up the smart phone and put it through its paces. I did my due diligence and in a matter of a few weeks, I, too, was the owner of a new smart phone (with a heaping helping of buyer’s remorse on the side).

Fast forward to today and I have been a smart phone owner for almost 4 months. As the literature promised, it took me almost no time to get my email, calendar, and other essentials up and running, and I get a little giddy whenever there are platform upgrades because that means new features and functionality. I regularly check out the latest apps, although I’m limiting myself to the free ones for now, and my data usage alone outstrips my family members three to one.

So, what is this attraction that gets us crazy with anticipation for a new phone when our two years of cell phone servitude are almost up, and how did I get sucked into it? In my humble opinion, it’s about going beyond expectations and giving the customer what they want before they even know they want it, and the cell phone industry is clearly very good at doing that. In fact, the partnership between mobile phone manufacturers and cellular service providers is a great example of effective retail tag-teaming. They come at us with a focused purpose – to read our minds and wow us with the latest and greatest they have to offer – and we easily (or in my case, eventually) give in.

Am I happy about spending more on my smart phone than I do on the necessities of life? Heavens, no. My frugal self is still up in arms about that. However, I do feel like I am getting value for my dollar and that lets me sleep at night. I guess there’s another important lesson here, too. Offer value, form, and function, marry it with a healthy dose of forward thinking, and you will reach your customers. That’s how they got me and I’m guessing that’s how they got you, too.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Teresa Sinel
Teresa Sinel is the Director of Operations, Analytics and Innovation for VIPdesk, the award-winning pioneer of home-based virtual customer care solutions for global brand leaders committed to enhancing their brand experience. Serving over 40 client programs and 10 million customers, VIPdesk specializes in delivering Concierge Programs, Contact Center Services, and loyalty programs for national brand leaders in the travel, auto, financial services, real estate and retail industries.

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