If you’re in the U.S. and you use any of the four big carriers, you probably owe a big “thank you” to T-Mobile for instigating many of the changes we’ve seen over the past couple of years since their “Un-carrier” initiative started rolling out. Whether it’s being able to upgrade before 2 years have passed or carriers beckoning you to join them ETF free, you can bet that most of these extraordinary, seemingly out-of-the-blue changes were because of our friends in magenta.
It seems like every time you turn around, one carrier or another has come up with another way to try and earn your business. Before now, it seemed like carriers carried the attitude that they were doing you a favor simply by existing and letting you use their network. They let you have one phone every 2 years; they let you use their network in exchange for a 2-year commitment; they let you walk out the door with a shiny new iPhone or Android for a subsidized fee, and they let you continue to pay for the phone once you had technically already paid it off. The wireless industry was a super sleazy business for a while, and while it still isn’t perfect, it has definitely undergone some majorly positive changes recently.
But now that a lot of those major aspects have more or less been fixed by most carriers in one form or another, what’s left to make T-Mobile special anymore? What makes people want to switch to T-Mobile now that the other three carriers have also copied the biggest changes to happen to the wireless industry in recent history?
The answer to that is simple: T-Mobile inspires loyalty by caring about its current customers just as much as it cares about new ones.
It came to me as I was sifting through various Black Friday deals, debating on whether there was anything that I felt was worth investing in or not. Inevitably I came across T-Mobile’s Black Friday deals, which not only targets Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon customers over the next few weeks, but it also managed to sneak a little unlimited LTE data in for its own customers (with active Simple Choice plans that have Binge On enabled) for the next 3 months.
This made me think about T-Mobile’s event earlier this month. The headlining Un-carrier move was the introduction of Binge On, which is a service that allows customers with 3GB or higher Simple Choice data plans to stream optimized video for free (and allows anybody with lower data plans to stream more video content within their specified allotment with the optimization). It was a pretty enticing move in itself for the consumer, but T-Mobile also had another announcement up their sleeve: Simple Choice Amped. Simple Choice Amped doubled the data of previous Simple Choice plans, which would seemingly leave out customers who had Unlimited data, which unfortunately can’t be doubled thanks to the laws of nature.
But T-Mobile managed to give even their Unlimited customers something extra anyway by doubling their allotment of hotspot data from 7GB to 14GB, as well as giving them one free movie rental a month. (The negative aspect of this, however, is that future unlimited customers now have to pay $45 instead of the grandfathered $30 unlimited data plan, so somebody does end up paying for all these niceties somewhere.)
T-Mobile isn’t perfect, and they're obviously doing moves that benefit the company as well as consumers, but in my opinion what they are doing now is pretty awesome in comparison to other carriers. They were the underdog that had a lot to lose, and instead of going under they did something about it that ended up benefiting us all. Despite the fact that they have already surpassed Sprint as the third largest mobile carrier in America, they still have a long way to go. Making sure that their current customers are just as stoked about the company as their new customers is important considering that it’s easier now than it ever was to go from one carrier to the next (thanks to their own moves) and it seems that they realize this.
In a way it’s a little sad that it’s so rare to feel that a company actually cares about its current customers, but the wireless industry has always been more interested in drawing customers in – likely because once they signed the contract it was easy to keep them from leaving. But now things are different, and it’s a good thing. A great thing, even. And at this point it is something worth appreciating.