A recent study by J.D. Power found that "customer contact with wireless carriers via online self-service is at an all-time high, as a growing shift in mobile device usage is affecting the way customers contact their providers with service inquiries." The study found that AT&T ranked the best among consumers and the use of mobile devices to engage with their providers was a key factor for this satisfaction.
Carriers around the world are focusing on how best they can meet their customer needs and bring relevance to their consumers. For example, AT&T offers a mobile app called myAT&T for iOS and Android in addition to their browser-based web portal. The app allows customers to view their bill, wireless activity, manage their plan and services, interact with customer service and more. It's quite likely one of the factors indicating why AT&T earned such a high ranking by satisfied customers, or at the very least it illustrates a forward-thinking mindset in building engagement.
Carriers in emerging markets have faced challenges beyond merely providing the latest devices and top-notch network speeds; customers expect better plan options as well as more convenience in changing their subscription selections as needed. The companies that will thrive are the ones which develop innovative flexibility in finding creative ways to address growing consumer expectations, particularly among millennials.
One such example is Saudi Telecom Company (STC), which has partnered with ItsOn, an American tech company located in the Bay Area. The two organizations have launched a new digital mobile brand named Jawwy by STC, aimed at tech-savvy young subscribers to allow them more diverse flexibility and management of their mobile plans. As with the myAT&T app, the goal of Jawwy is to permit these customers to build, share and manage their plan in real-time, rather than having to buy fixed static plans that are only managed via customer care calls - sometimes with lengthy wait times.
Their intended target base is wide: Saudi Arabians 30 years old and younger represent approximately 65% of the country's population. STC's CEO, Dr. Khaled Biyari, stated: "We needed to develop a new offering for digitally-savvy young people. "The millennials of today's Saudi Arabia exemplify the ongoing shift in consumer behavior and expectations. They live in an always-on, real-time world and they expect companies to cater to them in the same way. Jawwy is a significant part of STC's current digital transformation and we believe this initiative will set the pace for the telecom sector in KSA and beyond."
Access to Jawwy is based on an associated SIM card and a dedicated app, available for both iOS and Android. Using the app, customers can change their plans, manage billing from their mobile devices, activate new services, transfer or share data or services with other users, monitor plan details and usage, access specific bundles or offers, and engage with customer support.
I spoke with Robert Oberhofer, VP of Technical Sales and Marketing at ItsOn to find out more about Jawwy:
Is a model like Jawwy going to debut in the U.S. anytime soon (or does such a model already exist?)
"ItsOn launched a similar model in 2015 when it partnered with Sprint and Virgin Mobile USA to launch Virgin Mobile's "Data Done Right." This is an affordable and personalized no-contract data sharing plan, available at Walmart. It includes 4G smartphones pre-loaded with the Virgin Mobile app, which allows customers to adjust their own calling, messaging and data allowances at any time without the need to interact with customer care or a store representative.
Jawwy is an evolved version of the base digital experience offered by Virgin Mobile's "Data Done Right" - the expanded model offers online purchasing of SIM cards or devices, the use of social network log-ins and accessible, online customer support."
Are there different regulations for carriers in Saudi Arabia vs. the U.S.?
"Yes. For example, in Saudi Arabia, the identity of the purchaser for all new SIM cards must be validated against a National ID. As a digital brand with an online purchase model, Jawwy offers in-home delivery of its SIM card through a partnership with Uber. The Uber driver will not just provide the convenience of in-home delivery but will also be able to execute the verification. This is another example of modern, digital, out-of-the-box thinking."
What makes younger people more likely to benefit from a model like Jawwy?
"In Saudi Arabia, millennials are highly active on social media and are drawn to the convenience, flexibility and transparency of digital services. Jawwy by STC addresses these values by using ItsOn's advanced technology to allow younger users to view, manage and personalize their mobile phone plans. Millennials also thrive from a model like Jawwy because it is fully communicative - features like usage monitoring and easy access to customer support allow them to directly engage with their mobile carrier."
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Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.