What do mobile consumers really want? It’s a question that troubles me and, when I’m sat in interviews or conference calls with service providers, a question that I continually pose myself. Would someone use this? Can I see my normal mobile user (“normob”) friends using this? Could I see it gaining widespread adoption?
I regularly place myself in the middle of normobs from all walks of life. It’s a critical requirement, I think, when you’re looking at high tech, highly sexy mobile applications, devices and services on a daily basis. You can get carried away and end it’s far too easy to end up drinking the industry’s (or, indeed, your own kool-aid).
This week Jonathan Jensen is pondering the issue and focuses on cost — a massively overlooked and highly influential motivator when it comes to normobs with a pathological fear of bill shock.
Over to Jonathan:
– – –
What does a typical mobile consumer really want from their service? We know what the mobile operators are offering but does that really hit the spot with the Normobs out there (yes, there’s a theme here!). I know what I want but I’m far from being a typical consumer!
To get some answers I sat down my favourite Normob, Jo, and asked her if she was happy with her mobile service. The answer – generally yes, but Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
Jo’s biggest issue is around tariffs.
She pays a fixed fee for a minutes and texts bundle which seems fair value, except Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ lots of stuff isn’t included.
She needs to call a 0800 number to place an order – that’s free from a landline but from a mobile it’s a chargeable call and it’s outside the tariff bundle.
She wants to send me a photo of something she’s seen in a shop – that’ll be extra because picture messages aren’t included.
She’s going to update Twitter by SMS – they use a 07 Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmobile’ number that her operator has deemed is not only excluded from her SMS bundle but is charged at a premium rate of 25p! Instead she could go to the Twitter website and update there but that’ll be a chargeable data call – no idea what that’s going to cost.
Still, she can call me on my Truphone number – hang on that’s apparently not a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœreal’ mobile number so that’s extra too. And so it goes on.
Suddenly her tariff bundle is looking a bit flaky! Lots of stuff is excluded and Jo’s got no idea what her monthly bill is going to look like.
What Jo wants is to pay a fixed fee that includes all her usage up to a given value. If she hits the limit she can stop spending that month or pay a bit extra. If the monthly fee isn’t enough for her regular monthly expenditure then she can opt to pay a higher monthly fee.
What would also help Jo here would be weekly SMS alerts summarising her expenditure by calls, SMS and data so she always knows where she is.
She could probably go to her operator’s website and dig out the information but why should she? Surely her mobile operator could push the information out to her handset.
And handset manufacturers should also take note. Jo’s big handset gripe is around the T9 predictive text dictionary.
Why, after about 10 years of T9, can a user still not edit the dictionary? I’ve shown Jo the hack to delete the dictionary folder (when you’ve installed a S60 file browser) but that’s definitely outside the Normob world.
And while we’re on the subject of T9, why doesn’t it present the most used word for any given combination of letters instead of coming up with that bizarre word you used once.
So, something for both operators and handset manufacturers to think about; this is what one customer would really like to see.
– – –
Just one customer. That’s what just one customer would like to see. If you sit down any normob and get them into the correct mindset, you’ll get similar kinds of feedback that Jonathan got from his friend Jo. It doesn’t take much — just a few pointed questions — to set off a waves of niggly complaints and annoyances.
When I read the paragraph relating to ‘fixed fee that includes ‘all her bill usage up to a given value’ I immediately thought T-Mobile UK Flext. That’s exactly what that plan offers. Although there are tons of exclusions such as 0800 numbers and so on. In this area I think the industry is unlikely to give a monkeys. If anything, the industry are dependent on this kind of bill farming as it’s where they’re able to make sizable ARPU increases in the short term. Alas, the short term view totally winds up the consumer making them highly resistant to trying anything that costs money. The industry would be far better served with their customers paying money for something they really want to use and value, rather than being stung for silly prices to 0800 numbers.
Anyway, that’s a discussion for another day. Jonathan, thank you for that!
You can read more from Jonathan at his site, www.sevendotzero.com.