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ECT News Community   »   E-Commerce Times Talkback   »   Re: Solving the Sprint Problem

Re: Solving the Sprint Problem
Posted by: Jeff Kagan 2012-05-24 05:13:57
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A quick look at the wireless industry over the last several years shows wave after wave of innovation and success. In fact, success has been bigger than anyone's wildest dreams. However, success does not come to all. Why do some companies, like AT&T and Verizon, seem to hit the ball out of the park, while Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile keep striking out? And what can they do about it? When Dan Hesse joined Sprint several years ago, I expected a rapid recovery. That didn't happen. He made several important improvements with the service, but it is still struggling compared to the major competitors. So what's the problem?

Re: Solving the Sprint Problem
Posted by: tjheller 2012-06-07 17:37:53 In reply to: Jeff Kagan
As a former Nextel, and then Sprint Nextel employee, your solution is partially right. One thing that Sprint did when merging with Nextel was assume two things: First that the Nextel Customers would be happy to be Sprint Customers, and second, Nextel was old and antiquated and should be dispatched as quickly as possible.

Nextel customers were loyal to the Nextel brand. Nextel offered the techies of that time a service, Direct Connect, that was not available anywhere else. Sure Verizon launched a walkie talkie, as did Sprint, however those were inferior products to the iDen product. I suspect they still are, but 3 and 4 G services have brought them much closer. Verison launched their service prior to the merger with Sprint, it was pretty much a failure, because of quality and the loyalty of Nextel customers. In fact, the few Nextel customers left, may leave Sprint when iDen goes dark. It is not about internet speeds, it was about business speeds. BlackBerry was available on the Nextel network, data speeds sucked, however, we found a way to migrate contacts to the new device. Nextel did not require contracts until a couple years before the merger, they intended to earn the business which made contracts unneccesary. They also did not subsidize phones to the extent as other carriers. When the i730 launched it was $300 for a flip phone that other carriers might give away. We sold out in a couple days. If a customer wanted a new phone, they could get it for the best price regardless of where they were in their contract. Was the service slow? Yes on the tech side, no on the customer service side. Nextel had a very flat managment tree, Tim Donahue was about 3 steps above me, a lowly store manager; after the merger Sprint installed umpteen new levels. That makes their customer service slow, and costs more. Dan Hesse has done a good job, but the levels below him are unwilling to change the culture to accept what he wants.

The first day post merger they changed the recording customers got calling a Nextel phone, intead of "please wait while the Nextel Subscriber is located" They replaced Nextel with Sprint, the out cry from customers forced them to change back. Nextel employees were trained on Sprint products, but Sprint employees either were not trained, or didn't care about Nextel products. Now after all these years, most Nextel customers have given up hope that Sprint will ever do justice to the Nextel Brand, when it dies next year they probably will look at all available services.

I was glad to see the customer service rankings, when I worked for Nextel they always were neck and neck with Verizon as top dog, and it was important, not because we might get fired but rather as a pride issue.

I do wish Sprint well, I carry an iDen handset. I do wonder often what would happen if Motorola worked with another carrier to deploy iDen, if they could match the Nextel success. Throughout the merger it was said the new company would keep the best of each side, that didn't happen and Sprint has suffered. Maybe they could learn by using the remaining Nextel people to develope the culture that could help them soar again... Probably not, that's not the Sprint way.

Re: Solving the Sprint Problem
Posted by: sprintnextel 2012-05-24 16:35:07 In reply to: Jeff Kagan
I can't help but think that you're a marketing major of some sort. I didn't see any mention of technological obsolescence. The problem with Sprint is that they bought Nextel, which operated on a completely outdated cellular technology. They have spent more money trying to rid themselves of the old iden nextel network, and less on investments, like the iphone.

They don't want to make the mistake of merging with another company that doesn't fit congruently with their current strategic plan of upgrading to LTE. Yes, Sprint needs to rebrand itself, but not with a useless merger.

You should give more concrete details on your rebranding strategy, rather than throwing out vague words; such as, "young" and "hip" as your replanning tools.

I believe AT&T and Verizon have a solid reputation at this point with devices that are in high demand and quality service. You have to go into further details of band wave length and other details that make these companies' reception bar-none. But, that's for another time.

Good luck on refining your article.
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