What Really Influences Mobile Usage and Satisfaction?

While the research industry continues to place emphasis on understanding mobile consumers and demonstrating the ROI of mobile as advertising platform, there are limited studies available as to how consumers are actually using mobile data. A ground-breaking new study from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has unearthed some very interesting insights that should make carriers, telcos, researchers and marketers alike sit up and pay attention.

Using a curated panel of mobile users, a passive metering solution, and in-the-moment behaviorally-triggered surveys, BCG’s study examined how customers are using mobile data, how their plans impact their data usage, and how key benefits such as speed and accessibility are effecting mobile customer satisfaction.

The study collected nearly 100GB of data usage, combined with some 300,000 completed in-the-moment surveys. BCG “captured detailed usage information from 1,500 volunteers as they went about their lives … and by polling participants about their experiences—not, like traditional surveys, long after the fact but almost immediately afterwards—we were able to gain a better understanding of what really influences satisfaction.”

Among the findings:

  • There is an inverse correlation between income and data usage
  • Unlimited data plans result in less offloading to Wi-Fi
  • Low latency, not just raw speed, is highly correlated to customer satisfaction

Data Usage and Income

The study suggests that the lower the subscriber’s income, the more that subscriber will tend to utilize their cellular connection for data, resulting in higher costs to the carriers. Users with higher incomes are more likely to offload data to Wi-Fi networks, thus they tend to use less cellular data than lower income subscribers.

Consumers Want Data…Lots of Data

Another factor influencing whether one offloads to Wi-Fi is the type of plan. The study found that subscribers that have more data included in their monthly usage plan are also more likely stick with cellular connections and not switch to Wi-Fi, even when hotspots are available. It would be no surprise, then, that carriers would seek to limit the availability of “all you can eat” data plans.

As BCG notes, “Most unlimited plans do not provide the ability to adequately monetize the increased cellular-data usage. (In some countries, though, a throttling-with-upselling strategy has been used to provide monetization.) Indeed, most such plans have the effect of enabling data abusers.

Does Speed Matter?

Lastly, the study looked at the fundamental question of what drives customer satisfaction. The most impactful insight here relates to the fact that latency is the number one factor for customer satisfaction.

This is not to say that speeds are irrelevant, but as BCG states: “… telcos have overrated the role that speed plays in customer satisfaction.

Mobile users take it for granted nowadays that they should be connected anytime and anywhere. If the carriers can’t meet those basic expectations, customers move to the competition. To prevent that, carriers must continuously build and scale their network infrastructure, betting that they can significantly increase revenues simply by adding more customers.  To win those extra subscribers, carriers can benefit from studies such as price plans and offers accordingly.

 By leveraging a deep understanding of how customers actually use networks and what drives their satisfaction, telcos and other stakeholders can focus their optimization efforts and their investments where they have the most impact: on both the customer experience and their own bottom line.”

The market research industry should continue working with carriers, app developers and device manufacturers to gain better understanding consumer behavior and satisfaction. But, as we see in the BCG study, the best way to understand the mobile user and what motivates them is to measure their activities and ask for their opinions in the right moment and time. Curated panels and behaviorally targeted surveys do just that.

If you want to find out how you can launch your own mobile panel and gain unparalleled data-driven insights about your mobile consumers, get in touch with us.