How Verizon lead the online smartphone and wireless plan market; How Apple scores high in digital CX

Before the gift-giving season came around this winter, the biggest names in smartphones released their latest batch of technology. Amongst the major releases were the iPhone X from Apple and the Pixel 2 from Google, both certain to bring in customers eager to upgrade their old smartphones. Of course, buying a new smartphone often comes with signing a new contract with a wireless carrier.

In the latest WUA Digital Experience Benchmark Study, we took a look at which wireless providers offer the best online customer experiences for getting a new smartphone with a plan. The overall winner was VerizonWireless.com with a Digital Sales Score of 76, but the study revealed a number of useful insights that all wireless providers can learn from.

>>> Find the results and rankings for the Smartphone & Wireless Plan CX study here.

Verizon is king when it comes to findability

Verizon, which had the best overall digital sales score in our study, had 4 out every 5 customers visit their website in the search for a mobile phone plan. Based on our study, we can see that Verizon’s strong brand plays a role in this as many respondents went directly to their site instead of typing in search terms on a search engine.

Even when a common search term like ‘smartphone plans’ was entered, Verizon is almost always mentioned within the links of the search results. AT&T finished second in terms of findability, being found 19% less than Verizon.

Image: How did visitors find the different websites on Desktop? Source: Data from WUA’s Smartphone + Wireless Plan Digital Sales Study

Aesthetics and usability are what Apple does best

Verizon may have ranked top of the list when it comes to findability, they were never listed in the top 3 for any of the following customer experience themes in the WUA Digital Sales Model: Look & Feel, Product Offer and Brand. First place in those three categories belong to Apple. With its sleek, minimalistic webpage, Apple makes it simple for customers to navigate through their smartphone offerings.

Apple.com iPhone landing page

Image: Visitor’s on Apple’s iPhone landing page are greeted with an image of the iPhone X and the option to choose other models.

Compare Apple’s webpage for the iPhone with Verizon’s for smartphones, and you start to see why respondents of our study gave Apple a higher score for it’s Look & Feel. Visitors of Verizon’s webpage for smartphones are met with a rather hectic display of several different phone options, and the payment options displayed alongside them do not include contracts.

Image: Screenshot of Verizon’s Smartphone comparison page.

More simplicity could do a lot of good for telecom companies

While respondents consistently ranked Apple and Amazon highly for their clean display of products, the two tech-companies were also lauded by respondents for the actual offers they had on products. Respondents listed Apple most frequently for having a product offer they would most seriously consider buying, with Amazon finishing second in that category.

However, when it came to the price-quality ratio of the product being offered, Amazon topped the list. Some respondents shared that they were most impressed by the “good deals” and “affordable options” offered by Amazon. A deeper dive into the data also reveals to us that Apple and Amazon are most highly ranked with regards to the clarity and easiness of the order process, with Apple scoring an overall rating of 91 for order process. To enhance the experience, the telecom industry could utilize this best practice in bringing clarity and simplicity to the ordering process.

>>> Find the results and rankings for the Smartphone & Wireless Plan CX study here.

So how does Verizon finish with the top Digital Sales Score?

Considering that Apple doesn’t offer new phone contracts, it defaults to Verizon and it’s main competitors: AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. All four of these telecom providers had narrow range of scores when it came to the first impression respondents had of their websites, and yet, Verizon had the highest percentage of respondents take a further look at their products.

With 65% of respondents taking a further look after having a first impression of the site, Verizon beat out it’s biggest competitor AT&T by 18%. Part of the reason why Verizon is able to get more people to continue looking for phone plans on their site can be explained by why people didn’t continue on the sites of its main competitors. Many respondents complained that AT&T’s website “loaded too slowly.”

Many respondents were confronted with this loading screen.

Other respondents worried about the amount of “small fine print” on AT&T’s webpage. Similar results could be found for viewing T-Mobile’s site, who felt their plans “seem like a scam” and that they “could be misleading.” Trust was seen as a main issue for these service providers, something that respondents expressed far less for Verizon’s site.

With an average of 25% of respondents choosing VerizonWireless.com as their provider of choice, Verizon was the definite leader of our WUA Digital Sales Score. Still, there is much room for improvement for Verizon. 31% of respondents chose Verizon as their second or third choice, meaning that with a few changes to their web platform, Verizon could be able to convince more consumers to join their network.

Smartphone + Plan Insights Update October 2017

Want more insights into the smartphone and wireless provider market? We have a razor sharp image of your position and results. For more information and results download the free WUA Smartphone + Plan Insights Update October 2017.

  • 5 in-depth insights from the current research (October 2017)

  • Free results & scores from the current research (October 2017)

  • Conversion: visibility and preference from the current measurement (October 2017)

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WUA’s Smartphone Digital Sales Scan

WUA independently measures the customer journey of online markets to discover who provides the best online customer experience and the best practices across industries. Based on this data, WUA’s digital experts can create a custom-tailored report for your website to improve the customer journey step-by-step. Each Digital Sales Scan report includes market best practices both inside and outside your industry, recommendations and customer feedback on each step of the customer journey, and screenshot analysis to help your team create a better website and drive conversion. Read more about the Digital Sales Scan here.

Want to know more about how the Digital Sales Scan will work for you? Contact Bo-Peter Laanen to find out, and initiate expert analysis for your website.