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luke_in_tas
4th January 2009, 12:12 PM
I wrote this post for my blog yesterday, but thought I'd share it here as well. What do you think should be priorities for Optus to retain their iPhone customers?

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Optus Don't Hear Us

It has been six months since the iPhone launched in Australia, and with the plans available from the various carriers at launch (although I donít have any statistics), I donít think there is any doubt that Optus scored a substantial amount of new customers. However, Optus doesnít seem to have done very much to keep those new (and existing) customers happy. So, with many of those Optus contracts ending in another six months, I thought Iíd offer Optus some advice on what they can do to stop a mass exodus of customers.

Network Reliability / Coverage
Optus have had a fair bit of bad press about network downtime and other issues. Although addressing such issues, and expanding coverage, is probably expensive and difficult, it is something Optus need to invest in to keep customers happy. No one is going to stay with a network that doesnít have coverage where they want it, or that isnít reliable.

A small thing Optus could do to dramatically increase customer satisfaction is provide a web reporting form for network black-spots. Iíve noticed a few in Hobart, and simply canít find an easy way to report them to Optus. Not only does this result in Optus not getting the feedback about black-spots, and the consequent ability to do something about them, but it causes immense frustration to customers who can only wonder if Optus know of the problem and will address it.

Software Enhancements
The other priorities I think Optus should have are all software based, and so probably donít have the expense or complexity associated with physically building and maintaining the network (which isnít to say I think they would be a cakewalk either). Those priorities are as follows:

MMS
We all know the iPhone doesnít have MMS, but MMS is still the only way many people with other phones can send pictures taken with their phones, especially as the iPhone canít receive images from other nearby phones over bluetooth. So Optus need to do something that addresses this.

Currently the Optus service is so appalling in this area that if someone sends me an MMS I wonít even know about it (http://www.lifehacker.com.au/tips/2008/10/24/optus_dumps_mms_notifications_online_storage.html) . Optus just drop the message, probably resulting in the sender being annoyed I have ignored their message (and them being charged for something that wasnít delivered).

To address this Optus need, like many other carriers, to send me an SMS message that tells me about the MMS, and give me the option to view it onlineóespecially seeing as iPhone users can go online with their iPhones and see the images while they are out and about. Even better, Optus could make a native iPhone app that lets customers send images by MMS (even if this is done indirectly by some Internet-based connection to their system that generated the MMS, rather than it coming directly from the phone) and also lets customers view the images they have been notified about by SMS.

Usage Widget
One thing I have greatly enjoyed about my switch from Telstra to an Optus cap plan is that I can actually afford to make calls. Before I was too scared to use my phone, but now the included call value in my cap means I can make plenty of calls without it costing me any more. Unfortunately though, there is no easy way to monitor how much of my cap I have used (for calls/SMS or data) and consequently I find myself occasionally in that old Telstra mindset of not wanting to use my phone in case it costs me.

To address this Optus need to implement a simple widget that shows how much of a cap has been used. They could put this on the web, but ideally it should be available on the iPhone too. Maybe it could be included in an Optus iPhone app that also includes the MMS functionality I mentioned above! Plus, Optus should provide their usage alert SMS feature to people on iPhone cap plans.

Visual Voicemail
Visual voicemail was one of the big features of the iPhone when it was announced. So why, six months after Optus started selling the iPhone, havenít they added support for this feature. Obviously there are some back-end changes to be made to their voicemail system, but surely these can be done?

Having visual voicemail, when no other Australian carrier does, would be another reason for customers to stay with Optus.

Twitter
A final thing I would like to see Optus do, although it might not be so important for other customers (although lots of iPhone users are Twitter (http://twitter.com/) users) is to add Twitter SMS support for Australian Twitter users.

Although I still use Twitter, I really wondered if I would when they dropped international SMS support (http://blog.twitter.com/2008/08/changes-for-some-sms-usersgood-and-bad.html). Being able to receive SMS notifications of tweets for some important people I follow was a fantastic feature. If Optus negotiated with Twitter to provide this service to their customers in Australia it would be a substantial coup for them over their competitors.

wmyeoh
4th January 2009, 04:17 PM
All very good points, although, not being a Twitter user, I don't know how carrier supported use of Twitted would be any better than the plethora of Twitter apps out there.

decryption
4th January 2009, 04:46 PM
All very good points, although, not being a Twitter user, I don't know how carrier supported use of Twitted would be any better than the plethora of Twitter apps out there.

Would just mean you can use Twitter via SMS (send Tweets, receive and send DM's via SMS etc). You still pay for the messages, just that Twitter and Optus come to some agreement where Twitter can afford to send the messages to you without breaking the bank.

The rest of the points are good ideas - the only thing stopping it is that Optus and all the other telcos *don't want you to measure your usage* - this is how they make money. By confusion. If one telco was to come along, with a modern usage meter, sensible billing etc. and was successful, they may be forced to come around and follow suit.

richbowen
4th January 2009, 05:00 PM
Great post.

On the network outages / blackspots / coverage question I think there's one word - communication. Something like the MobileMe status widget on the Apple site. I think customers accept 'some' gaps and if Optus clearly communicate status and what they're doing to improve I'd cut them a lot more slack.

luke_in_tas
4th January 2009, 05:01 PM
The real difference it would make for Twitter users is that they could receive notifications by SMS if selected of the people they follow post a message (you turn on device notifications for just those people you want SMS alerts for).

This service used to be available through a UK provider, but Twitter had to turn it off because of cost. So now only users in the US, Canada and India can receive such notifications (Australians can still use the UK number to update their Twitter status via SMS though - they just can't receive updates).

Although there are a plethora of Twitter apps for the iPhone, none of them support notifications. You have to manually run the app to check whether or not anyone has made a post. Maybe this will change when Apple get their third-party push service working, but even if it does, it won't help twitter users who don't have iPhones - some users interact entirely with twitter by SMS.

So, Optus negotiating with Twitter to provide this service to their customers would benefit all their Twritter-using customers, not just iPhone-Twitter-users (although they probably are the biggest group).

shiny
4th January 2009, 05:11 PM
I get an SMS notification to say I have got an MMS, it gives me a link to website to view. The Optus site for MMS though fails to load on the iPhone and I have to wait until I get to a computer so I can look it up.

You can also log into Optus' website and view your usage and how much of your cap you have used, the major issue with this is the data side. Instead of giving you total Kb's or MB's it gives a total cost of data used, so not very helpful unless you add up all the Kb's listed.

An app would be handy, but unlikely to happen and more capacity on the network would be nice too. :rolleyes:

luke_in_tas
4th January 2009, 05:14 PM
On the network outages / blackspots / coverage question I think there's one word - communication. Something like the MobileMe status widget on the Apple site. I think customers accept 'some' gaps and if Optus clearly communicate status and what they're doing to improve I'd cut them a lot more slack.

I agree. It would be too much to expect that the service would never have any interruptions, so some notification to users that the carrier is down would be better than users simply wondering if their phone was stuffed.

This actually happened to me one day when I was visiting Sydney. For no apparent reason I just couldn't get service with my iPhone, or when I did, it lasted for mere seconds. I assumed first up that there was something wrong with my iPhone, and spent an hour at the Genius bar in the Sydney Apple Store trying to sort it out. If Optus had just put up some indicator they were having problems it would have saved me (and other) plenty of frustration - especially as I later found out a short term fix would have been to switch off 3G during that particular outage and I could have happily continued to use the 2G network which was still up.

I'd really like the ability to report black-spots as well though.

luke_in_tas
4th January 2009, 05:17 PM
I get an SMS notification to say I have got an MMS, it gives me a link to website to view. The Optus site for MMS though fails to load on the iPhone and I have to wait until I get to a computer so I can look it up.

That's weird. I've seen several reports, like this one (http://www.lifehacker.com.au/tips/2008/10/24/optus_dumps_mms_notifications_online_storage.html) , that Optus don't do this any more. And I certainly don't receive any notification. Nor have I been able to view messages I know I've been sent using the OptusZoo site.