Why Your Telecom Retail Operation Needs to Offer (Better) Device Activations

For those retail operations that aren’t yet offering device activations, there is a host of business reasons why you should.

In today’s retail landscape, there are many businesses that don’t offer activations, but could do so. These include:

  • national retailers — from big-box electronics to general grocery and home goods stores — that are currently selling but not activating smart devices
  • the retail operations of original equipment manufacturers that sell their own-brand devices but don’t activate them
  • smartphone and tablet repair businesses that are looking to expand their offerings
  • wireline/​internet/​cable companies that want to get into wireless services
  • and more besides.

But getting into wireless activations has historically been a daunting task, given the complexities of all the carrier systems and disparate elements involved. This means that, even for businesses that are already offering device activations, it’s likely a disjointed and cumbersome experience for both the customer and the sales rep.

For the most part, today’s device retailers either aren’t offering activations at all, or they’re doing it badly,” said Jason Raymer, Senior Vice President of Revenue at iQmetrix. That’s not to say that the retail operations are poor, but that the systems that drive activations today are overly complicated and create a poor experience.” 

Here are some of the key pitfalls of not offering device activations — or doing it badly” — and what our iQmetrix experts have to say about them.

You’re selling but not activating devices, which means your business is leaving money on the table by:

  • Missing out on potential revenue
  • Missing upselling opportunities
  • Not providing a complete end-to-end customer journey and brand experience
  • Losing the business advantages of being a one-stop shop
  • Reducing the potential for customer loyalty

It’s no secret that there’s not much margin available in selling a device,” said Stacy Hamer, Chief Operating Officer of iQmetrix. A device typically has little to no margin. There’s some margin around the activation, and the bulk of revenue around the transaction is on the fringe — the additional fees, the additional accessories, and peripheral items like trade-in and insurance. So, you’re definitely missing out on a ton of upselling opportunities if you don’t activate, and you’re not providing that end-to-end retail journey. You want to be that one-stop shop that gives the customer everything they need, in order to create what’s ultimately most important — customer loyalty.”

You’re activating devices in-store only — and, in most cases, that probably means:

  • It is taking too long to activate a phone — 45 to 60 minutes​is the typical transaction time
  • Dual data entry means a very suboptimal sales rep and customer experience
  • The clunky system fosters poor sales rep behaviors of steering the customer towards the easiest carrier portal, not necessarily the right plan for the customer
  • You might be losing out on revenue by offering a limited carrier service
  • Having multiple carrier portals and logins creates an employee administration nightmare
  • You’re stuck in a cycle of poor sales agent experience — high agent turnover — high agent training costs
  • You’re not offering online activations, therefore losing out on potential revenue

Hamer said, What the poor activation experience typically comes down to is that the agent has to swivel-chair between multiple complex systems. During an activation, all the systems behind the scenes — carrier billing systems, different third-party options, and so on — are very old, burdensome, and hard to use. This is what generates this extremely high-effort transaction process.”

These long activation times and arduous experiences are another thing that drives down customer loyalty,” added Raymer. And it affects every stakeholder: the customer, the store associate, the retail operator, and the carrier.”

It’s not just the customer experience that retailers need to worry about — today’s store operators can’t afford to create a poor store associate experience either, given the massive labor shortage and high staff turnover. Retailers can easily get stuck in an endless loop of putting too much time and money into training new agents in complex systems, creating difficult work for that sales rep, only to lose them and having to start all over again. 

You’re also offering online device activations, but:

  • The clunky activation experience for customers creates high fallout rates and cart abandonment
  • The customer’s experience of your brand isn’t consistent across all purchasing channels
  • You aren’t scaling B2B activations and other services to business customers across any channels

Hamer explained, Online activations can be just as cumbersome as in-store experiences, and this can mean frustrating customers simply give up, creating high fallout rates. And that means that the experience of your brand that you’re creating isn’t consistent — unless we can agree that it’s consistently poor, unfortunately.”

The answer? Use the right technology to activate devices quickly and seamlessly

Savvy telecom retailers are turning to specialized technology to implement a new way of activating devices — whether those businesses are new to activations or simply want to improve the customer and sales rep experience. Today, new solutions offer a seamless activation flow that integrates all the disparate systems, eliminating time-consuming swivel-chair processes and smoothing the experience. 

A unified activation portal, such as iQmetrix’s Carrier Connect, is fully integrated with carrier systems. These integrations automatically keep you up to date with carrier offerings, allowing store associates to take customers through all their options, including:

  • financing
  • rate plans
  • device protection
  • trade-ins
  • bill payment
  • and more.

What’s more, having a single set of consolidated APIs integrated to Tier-1 US carriers (with automatic integration as new carriers come on-stream) means that you can deploy once and integrate to many. And it means not having to build an in-house activation solution, which can be very expensive and extremely high maintenance, requiring costly new carrier integration projects each time. Using a specialized activation solution such as Carrier Connect gives your in-house IT team the freedom to focus on other mission-critical projects. 

Whether your business is new to activating devices or not, today’s technology can claw back the money you’re currently leaving on the table, and create more of what every retailer is looking for — customer loyalty.

Want to learn more about iQmetrix’s unified activation portal, Carrier Connect? Check out our webinar here for more details, or get in touch with our team.