T-Mobile USA takes top spot in Nonstop Retention

When we today launch Nonstop Retention® – our toolbox for how mobile brands should keep customers with non-binding contracts loyal – we also introduce the Nonstop Retention Index.

In our first top list – more brands will be listed in the coming months – T-Mobile USA takes the No 1 spot with a Nonstop Retention Index of 58.

Even though T-Mobile didn’t originally invent all of their “uncarrier” initiatives, it’s logical that T-Mobile becomes highly ranked as the company systematically worked with continuous customer retention in mind, launching initiative after initiative to make customers actively want to stay with T-Mobile.

Some categories where T-Mobile ranks particularly well are:

Inclusive value

During the last year, T-Mobile has several times added more value to their Simple Choice plan without increasing the prices. The fact that most of these changes – last one being the inclusion of roam like home in Mexico and Canada – are done not only for new customers but also for existing customers is very positive for T-Mobile’s Nonstop Retention Index.

Other positive contributors are Music Freedom allowing customers to use 33 music streaming services without data charges and T-Mobile’s introduction of Wi-Fi Calling, which improves indoor coverage and thereby reduces risk of churn.

Bundling with fixed broadband or TV (so called quad-play) would have increased T-Mobile’s index – if it would add to the inclusive value or bring additional discount.

No waste of data

As one of few operators, T-Mobile is still providing unlimited data (albeit with restrictions on tethering) as a premium option for customers.

For customers on limited plans, T-Mobile’s introduction of Data Stash, carrying over unused data to next month, is also improving the Nonstop Retention Index. The more data customers accumulate in their Stash, the lower the churn risk. Who wants to leave gigabytes of unused data behind? T-Mobile could have done more, though. Data Stash isn’t available for customers on the 1 GB entry level. If it was, the Nonstop Retention Index would have been 60. Data sharing (which all of T-Mobile’s competitors have) would also have improved the index.

Community & following

With a CEO who has 1,6 million followers on Twitter, you shouldn’t perhaps be surprised that T-Mobile is good within the “community & following” category (even though the number of followers John Legere has isn’t an indicator in the Nonstop Retention Index).

But in addition to T-Mobile’s strong use of social media, T-Mobile has also been very successful with its family plan which – in a simple-to-understand way – gives friends and family members additional discounts when they attach yet a user to an account. T-Mobile has said that more than 50% of their subscribers are on family plans. Noticeably this was achieved without data sharing.

T-Mobile also has a referral program which is positive for the Nonstop Retention Index. One way for T-Mobile to improve further would be to introduce a loyalty program.

Handset flexibility

T-Mobile was for long synonymous with the equipment installment plan (EIP). It allows customers to change handset when they like – if they pay their remaining balance. But T-Mobile was also a pioneer when introducing the early upgrade plan JUMP! in the US. With over 11 million enrolled customers, it’s been a success for T-Mobile – especially considering that it costs an additional 10 USD per month.

Both of these initiatives are positive for the Nonstop Retention Index. So is the fact that T-Mobile followed Sprint to introduce also a handset lease option – dubbed JUMP! On Demand.

But T-Mobile can still improve. Their Nonstop Retention Index of 58 is still far from the maximum of 100. Here are the two categories where T-Mobile is relatively weak:

Contract freedom & fairness

Surprised? The marketing messages from T-Mobile suggests that there are no strings attached. But there is one. If a customer cancels the service contract, he or she if forced to pay the remaining equipment installments upfront. This is, de facto, coupling the service to the handset since most people can’t afford paying upfront – that’s why they took an installment plan in the first place. If T-Mobile instead allowed people to continue paying on their installment plan (even if they paused their service contract), there would have been a chance that the customer could have rejoined a few month later. Now that’s much more unlikely.

Buying experience & rating

When it comes to buying experience, T-Mobile isn’t standing out from the crowd: In a traditional American fashion, there’s much fine print and much of terms & conditions:

T-Mobile fine print

It’s not easy for customers to make educated buying decisions. And for customer loyalty it doesn’t matter if the operator can prove its legal right, it matters that the customers understood what they bought.

Even with these improvement areas, T-Mobile tops our first version of the Nonstop Retention Index.

In the coming months, we will add more mobile brands to the index.

Read more about the Nonstop Retention Index: https://nonstopretention.com/nonstop-retention-index/