Are Cell Phones the New Landlines?

Cell phone use on the rise
A Wikipedia list of cell phone usage by country showed that as of December 2009, the U.S. had nearly 286 million cell phones in use. In parallel, a recent National Center for Health Statistics study found that one in every seven homes surveyed received all or almost all their calls on cell phones, even though they had a landline. Study results further indicated, one in four homes in the U.S. relied solely on cell phones. This statistic highlights these households had no land line at all during the last half of 2009. Since this time, the number of households that fall within this category have increased 1.8 percent.

Implications for communications companies
The increasing use of cell phones, coupled with the decreasing use of landlines, raises some very important concerns for communications companies:

  • The physical address on file may not be accurate, since consumers can keep the same number as they jump providers.
  • The increased use of pre-paid cell phones shines a new light on the growing issue that contact numbers are not a consistent means of reaching the consumer.

These two issues make locating cell phone-only customers for purposes of cross-selling and/or collections an enormous challenge. It would certainly make everyone’s job easier if cell phone providers were willing to share their customer data with a directory assistance provider. The problem is, doing so, exposes them to attacks from their competition and since provider churn rate concerns are at an all-time high, can you really blame them?

  • Identifying potentially risky customers, among cell phone-only consumers, becomes more difficult. Perfectly good customers may no longer use a landline.
  • From a marketing point of view, calling cell phones for a sales pitch is not allowed, how then do you reach your prospects?

What concerns you?
Certainly, this list is by no means complete. The concerns above warrant further discussion in future blog posts. I want to know what concerns you most when it comes to the rise in cell phone-only consumers. This feedback will allow me to gear future posts to better address your concerns.