It’s the summer of 2k18, and devices are coming out in a flurry. The difference this year is that because of advancements in mobile computing chips thanks to Qualcomm, the applicational use of smartphones is diversifying at major rates than we could have ever imagined.
You are seeing mobile devices being used in almost every aspect of our lives and it’s not just the 20-34-year-old age bracket maximising the use, mobile adoption is happening across the age brackets across the world and the uses are just amazing.
We are seeing the rise of Virtual Reality use in the medical fields, Augmented Reality developers are beginning to show off with how important the technology can be and the array of uses for our everyday lives.
Now, I know there are going to be a lot of people who read this blog and think well, who cares, nobody in the Caribbean cares about these developments to warrant our Telco companies to spend a moment’s thought on developing programs and strategies to acclimate the public with all this new tech. Therein lies the problem!
Admittedly, most of the companies I will soon reference have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars in Customer Workshops to build customer loyalty, but they understand that an educated customer, is a loyal customer, and the loyal customer will spend more money with your company. Therefore it is mutually beneficial to all parties.
Since I am located in Trinidad & Tobago, I will pick on my two Telco companies. If you follow either of them on social media, it doesn’t take much scrolling to understand that there is a lack of engagement by the public on their platforms and it is mainly because there is next to no value being provided by the companies outside of quick contests to win free credit or other prizes.
Digicel cites that the goal of the 2030 vision they have been touting over the last year can be broken down to 3 main areas, Organisational Restructuring, Enhancing their Digital Access Points, & Delivering an Amazing LTE Network. They also position themselves as a Communications and Entertainment provider. Through their marketing efforts and brand positioning, one would think their focus is on the entertainment side of things as there is not much of a focus on the communications. It takes a lot more than just dropping a new network and the latest offering from Samsung in order to build consumer loyalty and actually get the market to understand how big of a deal LTE is.
Bmobile similarly falls into the same bracket, Communication & Entertainment. They both seem more content with trying to get the most creative marketing award then providing real value for the consumer base. They launched their LTE network back in December 2016 and most people couldn’t tell you what LTE stood for let alone the actual benefits of the network. Since the closing of all the corporate stores, customers have had more questions than answers or solutions to any of their problems. They have just rolled out Carhub, and while this is a popular product across the globe, we shall see the adoption rate for consumers here locally as its another product clients are still wondering the practical benefits of the product or how it can fit into their everyday life.
I have heard the critics say in the past, it is not the jobs of the Telco companies to teach about tech to the communities, and that responsibility should go to the manufacturers. Well, a quick Google search will point out that since about 2011, Telco companies across the Globe have been building Customer Workshop programs, following in the steps of Apple. Let me name a few an initiatives being done by popular companies in other markets.
AT&T: They have a few initiatives that I thought were great for consumers. They partner with Oasis to bring a tech training program that focuses on their over 50 clients, teaching them through a wide array of topics. They also partner with a brand called Chicago Lighthouse to train people with disabilities on how to utilize all the accessibility functions that all manufacturers build into their devices so that can get the most out of it depending on their disability.
They have revamped stores to feature a Genius bar like setup with mobile experts and also host in-store workshops. Finally, they have the DigitalYou platform that is a popular resource centre for all ages that teaching topics of how to utilize Digital & Mobile technology.
Telus: Telus has invested in renovating their stores to provide a learning centre experience, similar to what Apple does with their in-store workshops. Clients are now able to do much more than just purchase products, but also book appointments with experts or sit in one of their workshops.
Verizon: Verizon has their “Smart Workshops” program that again, focuses on getting customers acclimated to all the new technology through their instructor-led courses. The best part is that you do not need to be a client to access them.
US Cellular: They allow you to bring your device and sit in their 60min workshops, with their Wireless Experts as they give you the tips and answers to how to simplify and enhance your life with mobile technology. You also do not need to be a client to access their workshops.
Vodafone UK: Vodafone has noticed a major gap in Digital skills in the UK and has launched their Digital Skills program to fill that gap. They target SMB’s and people starting from as young as 16, and offer workshops to build their Digital Skills for business so that they do not fall behind the worlds growing global economy.
Best Buy: Straying away from the Telco companies for a second. Best Buy is a 3rd party dealer for all of the Telco companies in America. With the mobile technology growing and becoming more specialised, they have revamped their training programs, improving the courses and testing needed to be done to even get into the department.
There are so many more Telco companies globally spearheading initiatives to teach the public how to use all of the advancements in mobile computing on an everyday level. The reality is simple, you hire the best engineers to build your products, but it is pointless if nobody is using or understands how these new advancements can be implemented in their lives.
As long as the companies in the Caribbean focus more on trying to entertain the public, how can we collectively grow and become more technologically advanced? How can we expect people to feel comfortable with doing the basics like mobile shopping, creating e-commerce platforms too, building Digital skills, using smartphones for more than just WhatsApp or Facebook?
Simply put, they have the resources to be the leaders in not just bringing forth new technology, but also creating initiatives for users to learn and take advantage of all the new tech being brought forward. There must actually be a focus in creating training programs that will teach reps about the mobile technology so that they have the proper knowledge to handle the complexities of the questions, clients will be coming into their locations with.
I was with a friend, waiting to be served in one of Telecoms providers store when I was eavesdropping on a conversation with a rep and a customer. The rep was explaining to the customer that the reason for the bad reception on their device was that the “bushings” in their smartphone needed to change. Anytime a mobile rep thinks that there are bushings in a smartphone, I think it is safe to say that the level of training being provided to the reps, is simply non-existent or in dire needs of reform.
So while we are too busy trying to win free credit by doing quick marketing attention grabs, the world is advancing and we are being further left behind. I just finished watching the introduction of the Asus ROG phone. A smartphone with a ridiculously powerful Snapdragon 845 CPU clocked at 3ghz, 512 GB of storage with 8 GB of RAM, and wondering if any of these companies would feel compelled to showcase just how many things a device of this nature can do and what it means to the industry, since it is currently the most powerful phone made to date.
Caribbean Telco companies…I urge you to wake up! The 21st century is here and calling you.