Ericsson ConsumerLab said traditional measures of customer loyalty have failed to keep pace with changing usage patterns among mobile broadband users.
In a report, the ConsumerLab argued that traditional measures of network operator preference are outdated because they fail to account for changing expectations of network performance caused by growing use of new applications and services including video streaming.
The consumer unit also said that the number of smartphone users experiencing problems on a daily basis remains unchanged, despite mobile operators delivering a raft of network improvements over the past three years. A ConsumerLab survey of 1,000 smartphone users in 14 countries -- which Ericsson said is representative of 650 million users -- found that two in five smartphone users reported that they experienced at least 11 problems weekly, and that video streaming issues are becoming more common.
Jasmeet Singh Sethi, senior advisor with Ericsson ConsumerLab, said the emergence of new apps and video usage behaviour means “network performance will matter more than ever and will determine how loyal smartphone users will be to their operators.”
The company said its research showed that mobile broadband experience remains the key driver of smartphone users’ loyalty to their operator, but noted that the experience is also a cause of dissatisfaction for 73 per cent of the smartphone users it surveyed.
Smartphone users typically measure the performance of their operator’s mobile broadband network based on how well apps are working. For example, a video streaming app would be measured on its ability to stream content uninterrupted. Users also measure performance by the speed with which they can upload content to social media sites -- a factor ConsumerLab said was particularly important among users aged 18 to 24 years old.
The research also showed that subscribers may remain loyal to their current mobile operator purely because they cannot find a viable alternative.