At YMC, we recently made the switch from AT&T to T-Mobile. While cost was a factor, the culture of T-Mobile was what drove our decision. We choose to do business with brands whose culture and beliefs align with ours. T-Mobile CEO John Legere is on a mission to make his company the true un-carrier. Unlike many financial institutions who want to be the “un-bank” but do so in message only, Legere backs up his words with actions.
“If a Martian came to Earth and tried to understand the way the wireless industry works, he wouldn’t believe it—he’d go back to Mars. Carriers locked customers into long contracts and treated them like crap. Their networks were terrible,” Legere said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas back in 2013. Couple that with poor network coverage and the fact that T-Mobile customers couldn’t use the iPhone on the T-Mobile network and the odds were stacked against the small wireless carrier. Legere ended his impromptu tirade in Vegas by saying, “I saw more honesty on a Match.com ad than on AT&T’s coverage maps.”
The same statement can be made for most ads from financial institutions. Many of the ads, which tout great rates and incredible service, contain about as much truth as a pickup line. How many financial institutions treat their customers and members “like crap?”
If you disagree, a study done by MSN Money asked people what bothers them the most about banks. Here are a few reasons why people are unhappy:
Role in the bailouts or foreclosure crisis
Unclear or surprise fees
Inability to resolve mistakes quickly
Your kumbaya marketing message isn’t enough to convince consumers to switch. Why? Studies over the past few years have consistently shown 9 out of 10 consumers are skeptical of paid ads.
So what should you do? Follow the lead of John Legere. In a recent interview with Harvard Business Review, Legere said this about the T-Mobile turnaround: “I know that you can’t shoot off your mouth unless you do the work to back it up, so I challenged my leadership team, and together we began making dramatic and ultimately successful changes to our product strategy.”
How? He started by changing everything that people said they hated about wireless providers, including getting rid of long-term contracts and replacing them with a more transparent pricing model. “We made it easier to upgrade to a new smartphone and eliminated charges for global roaming, which often led to giant bills for our rivals’ customers,” Legere added. Oh, yeah, and he insisted on offering to pay off competitors’ early-termination fees for people who wanted to switch to T-Mobile. “We made it easy to call free over Wi-Fi networks. As streaming video became more popular, we created Binge On, which allows customers to watch YouTube, Netflix, and other video without hitting their data buckets.” Trying to keep up, rivals have tried to copy many facets of the T-Mobile changes, especially in abandoning long-term, restrictive contracts. However, due to outdated thought processes and sticking to “the way we’ve always done it” the other large carriers haven’t been able to keep up.
To sum things up, Legere offered his closing statements at CES 2014, “We are either going to take over this whole industry, or these bastards are going to change, and the whole industry is going to shift. I don’t give a damn which. I can’t wait to watch the (people) scream and cry.”
Want to vault ahead of your competition? Follow Legere’s lead and shake the entire industry.