As of yesterday, AT&T is in trouble.The introduction of the Verizon iPhone is the company’s biggest challenge yet, as it faces the possible defection of thousands of existing customers to Verizon after their current contracts expire.
Yet, AT&T can seize this challenge and turn it into an opportunity. It is no secret that AT&T has had problems with its customers.
Many iPhone users have voiced their dissatisfaction with the AT&T device’s poor reception.
To turn this situation around, and to grow, AT&T’s entire organisation – from the corporate suite to the sales floor — needs to adopt both short-term and long-term strategies.
Effective execution of these strategies will prove that AT&T has learned from its mistakes and that it cares about its customers. One it has accomplished that, consumers will trust that AT&T can deliver on its promises.
In the short run, AT&T needs to understand the reasons why so many of its existing customers cannot wait to switch to another service provider. It needs to have an open mind about understanding the roots of the problem.
Customers feel unsatisfied simply because the performance of the company does not meet their expectations. Therefore, AT&T needs to work on their performance as a service provider. Offering discounted prices or some other sales promotions could stop some customers from switching to Verizon, but that would be just a stopgap solution, not a permanent fix.
The real and more important challenge that AT&T must confront is its long-term strategy. If AT&T wants to keep its existing customers, it needs to build lasting relationships with them. Building such relationships starts with building trust.
Customers need to trust a company first before committing to building a steady relationship with it. Creating that trusting relationship inspires loyalty to the company and stops them from switching to other competitors.
However, this is just the beginning. To be able to gain their trust and their enduring loyalty, the company needs to also show that it is honest with them and it also cares about its customers’ well being as much as its own.
The company has failed customers by denying issues with its services. To overcome this trust deficit, AT&T needs to show that it is really trying to solve the problems that have plagued it, improve its performance and demonstrate real concern for its customers.
Two-way communication with its customers can serve numerous purposes. To start, AT&T can and should use its website and other social media channels to communicate with its customers and control any damage caused by service problems.
It should share information about problems more openly. Customers should not feel as if information is being hidden from them, or that what they are being told is incorrect or misleading.
Honesty is a must for a trust-based relationship. AT&T, which invests heavily in its “hard” infrastructure, should make additional investments in its “soft” one, as well. Such short-term investment yield great returns in the long term.
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