Monday, April 03, 2006

Just An Online Minute... Wireless Offer Clutter

By Tobi Elkin is Executive Editor, MediaPost.

All those offers from wireless companies appear to have little impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty, according to a survey by Harris Interactive. The survey finds that 66 percent of U.S. adult mobile phone users comparison shop for wireless service providers, with more than two in five (43 percent) initiating the process two months before their contract expires or less.

Harris finds that while wireless providers enjoy limited success with promotional offers (29 percent of mobile phone users who receive promotional offers have responded to at least one offer over the past two years), such offers don't stop most subscribers from comparison shopping, and they seem to have little impact on customer satisfaction. The survey also finds that consumers would like to receive fewer offers than they currently do.

The Harris survey finds that two in five (40 percent) of mobile phone users say they receive promotional correspondence from their wireless service provider at least once a month or more often. Another third say they receive them once every three months (21 percent) or six months (10 percent). But if consumers had it their way, only 12 percent would choose to receive them at least once a month or more often, while 30 percent would want them about once every three months, and 20 percent would want them about once every six months. One in five indicate they never want to receive any offers.

While frequency affects promotional offer success, so does the mode in which the offers are delivered. Among mobile phone users who receive promotional offers, if they could choose, many would like to learn about offers via printed materials, either by mail at home (22 percent) or as an insert with their bill (23 percent). Nearly one-third (31 percent) would like to learn about them through an opt-in e-mail, such as an e-newsletter.

Harris finds that most mobile phone users (98 percent) who receive promotional offers and comparison shop say these offers don't stop them from comparison shopping. Further, 85 percent of those who receive promotional offers say such communications don't leave them feeling any less, nor any more, satisfied with their wireless service provider; 84 percent say the offers don't leave them feeling any less nor any more valued. In fact, the promotions have the opposite effect on some, as 9 percent of those who receive them say they feel less satisfied when they receive such offers, and 8 percent say they feel less valued.

"Wireless service providers are eager to hang on to current customers and to lure new ones into their grasp," said Joe Porus, vice president and chief architect for the technology research practice at Harris Interactive in a statement. "However, the survey shows that many providers are reaching out to consumers too often and may not be sending these offers out at the best time." Porus continued: "Promotional offers may be more persuasive if they were received within the 60-day 'shopping clock' before a contract expires, which appears to be the time [when] the largest proportion of subscribers are out seeking a better deal."

Harris Interactive conducted the online study from January 19-25, 2006 among a nationwide sample of 1,067 U.S. adults (ages 18 years and over) of whom 865 are current mobile phone users, 722 receive promotional offers, and 501 receive promotional offers and comparison shop.

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