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CIOs need to negotiate TLC into wireless contracts

Road warriors feel unappreciated by their mobile carriers. As keepers of the wireless technology, CIOs should make sure they feel loved.

To the wireless user, a little love goes a long way.

According to a new survey from In-Stat, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based research firm, 60% of frequent users of mobile phones and other wireless services feel their carriers don't appreciate their business. And 80% think carriers should do more to make them feel wanted.

It's a hassle to get batteries or accessories for devices.
Bill Hughes
principal analystIn-Stat
Bill Hughes, principal analyst at In-Stat, said certain loyalty programs and improvements to customer service by mobile carriers could result in better productivity for end users and fewer headaches for IT.

While a big hug from the CIO is a nice gesture, it isn't likely to inspire productivity as well as a well-negotiated contract that favors the user.

"If I were negotiating for big company X and I was looking for negotiating points, I would ask for all my employees better customer service and faster responses to their inquiries," Hughes said.

Faster customer service is an obvious boon to productivity for end users. The less time spent on hold, the more work they can do. But there are some other incentives with business benefits that might not seem evident immediately. For instance, if carriers provided a free extra battery and car charger with new phones, that would make a difference. Such a benefit can save time.

"Getting a new battery -- it's a hassle to get batteries or accessories for devices," Hughes said.

There are soft benefits, as well, when mobile carriers provide a more hassle-free service to business users.

"I would draw an analogy with the airlines," Hughes said. "Why does my company benefit when I get a free upgrade to first class? On a certain level they don't, but if I'm more relaxed when I arrive, the company benefits from my performance."

Even a points-based rewards program in which end users would earn everything from extra batteries to big-screen televisions would also be good for IT.

Some companies have limited control over what devices and service providers employees use. Getting them to commit to a certain device and carrier would reduce costs and simplify support of the devices.

Randall Mills is CIO at Americare Services Inc., a Plano, Texas, company that provides customers with phone consultations with doctors. The doctors in his company's network use their own mobile phones to take calls from Americare customers. However, Mills said his goal is to deploy a standard device and service provider to the several hundred doctors in his network.

"If I get them on a standard device, it's important because I don't have to train them on something else," Mills said. "And then I don't have a unique device on the system. If I have a doctor who is frustrated and can't make [his unique device] work, trying to support that is just a distraction to my business."

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The doctors in Mills' network aren't Americare employees, so his authority to dictate which devices they use is limited. Mills said these doctors usually have two or three mobile devices. If the first one gives them trouble, they go right to the second one.

"Typically the doctor will go to the front desk person in his office and hand it to the person and say 'Figure this out.' He'll move on to another device. They're too busy to deal with technology."

Mills said anything that makes his doctors more willing to commit to a standard device would help his business.

"[The doctors'] happiness with a phone is really important. A rewards program -- that would be an incentive for our doctors to use the phone more often," he said. "It drives usage. Would I make a decision based on a rewards program? Probably not. I would make the decision more on reliability. But I think these days retention is important, and it would help with retention, so that [the doctors] aren't jumping from one carrier to the next."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, News Writer

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