AT&T and T-Mobile need to fix customer service and help US economic growth

The  prospects of a merged AT&T and T-Mobile into one massive organization raise some real challenges. Customers feel worried (March 2011) that with such market dominance , it is likely that prices will not come down and service might actually worsen.

The technical part of  merging the  transmission towers at the back end of the wireless supply chain or the handsets,retail outlets of the two organizations are least of the problems. 

A  difficult task will be to communicate   the  combined plans and avoid billing surprises with customers. Customers can get used to paying less for poor wireless signal but the inability of customer service to address customer concerns is hard to deal with. And that is likely to become huge as the approval for the merger gets under way. Here is some data from the Customer Service Scoreboard website:

A bigger strategic issue for the wireless industry in the US is  that it is rather slow  compared to India and other growth markets where:

  • Incoming calls are free
  • International, long distance  and roaming is inexpensive
  • Data cards/plans  are also very affordable

The US wireless industry needs to see itself as an engine of growth and innovation for the US economy and when global roaming is about  $2/ minute – you can be sure  that conversations and negotiations are shorter from the US side. That’s opportunity lost for US businesses.

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