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Splitting The Baby and How to Avoid Having To

Splitting The Baby and How to Avoid Having To

Posted on by Jon Colgan

Cell Phone Carriers Frustrate Us.

When asked which companies frustrate us the most, cell phone carriers consistently top the list. Why? A survey of the American Customer Satisfaction Index suggests one explanation: the bigger the company, the worse the customer service. Lifehacker’s Alan Henry explains:

The biggest carriers are also the biggest companies, with sprawling mazes of customer service, fees and pricing structures, plans and phone costs, contracts, and coverage maps. . . almost everyone [has] a story about a carrier they [despise], which says something about the wireless market in the United States.​

This is what happens when we let an unregulated oligopoly control provision of basic needs like cell phone service. Four carriers have 93% of the US market share. With no meaningful regulation or competition, carriers don’t have to treat customers fairly; so they don’t.

Hence perennial consumer frustrations. What do we do when carriers frustrate us? To the carrier, we complain. To everyone else, we rant.

Why Rant?

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit make it easy to rant about ways carriers frustrate consumers. One in four consumers rant about bad experiences on social media. We’ve all seen these rants. But why do we rant?

Consumers complain to achieve objectives, and economic redress is the primary complaint objective. But when we fail to resolve our frustrations by complaining to carriers directly, we might, as a last resort, rant to anyone who’ll listen. But rarely are these complaints or rants resolved.

We conclude that carriers can’t be convinced, and we take a hit to our wallets and self-esteem. Thus complaining to anyone becomes a baby-splitting exercise.

Race Analogy

Problem is, arguing with cell phone carriers is like trying to beat them in a footrace. They train like Olympians on steroids, while consumers eat French fries with every meal. Who’s your money on?

Consumers decide whether to pursue a claim based on three considerations:

  1. “Do I think I can win?” No.
  2. “Will I burn more man-hours than a best-case resolution is worth?” Probably.
  3. “Is the amount of money at issue worth the pain of trying to win the race?” No.

Yea, you wouldn’t bet on consumers either. The above cost-benefit analysis suggests that pursuing the claim would cost more in time and resources than winning the claim would pay.

This is why, every month, consumers abandon otherwise legitimate claims. Carriers win by default, not because they’re right and consumers wrong, but because carriers have the edge.

Part of that edge is complexity. This figure shows consumers preferences for resolving issues.

broken image

Due to the mediums consumers prefer, as complexity of an complaint increases, the number of man-hours required to resolve it increases. For two reasons:

  1. Most consumers pursue complaints by phone, an inefficient, one-to-one medium.
  2. Carriers stifle complaints by phone with stalling and cognitive dissonance.

Carriers employ armies of low-paid phone reps who lack authority to resolve complex complaints and who do nothing more than parrot various canned rebuttals. These calls are a waste of time; indeed, no learning or listening takes place. Nevertheless carriers benefit from economies of scale by standardizing the process of handling complaints. With no such standardization, consumers burn more man-hours quicker than carriers, and the potential ROI of pursuing the complaint is thereby diluted.

CellBreaker turns the tables by standardizing the consumer complaint process. On average, consumers burn 20-50 man-hours pursuing complaints manually. CellBreaker customers burn about 10 minutes–answering an interview and sending a few messages. Manual complaint pursuit has dismal success rates. Even after 20-50 man-hours, consumers seldom get the resolution they seek. By contrast, CellBreaker has a 100% rant resolution rate.

In short, CellBreaker helps you avoid having to split the baby by giving you a way to pursue and win claims with little time investment.