T-Mobile has a bill payment problem: every month, nearly 40% of its nearly 75 million customers are late on their bill—that’s a $700 million for T-Mobile every year.
To kick off the 8-week design sprint, T-Mobile flew down from Seattle to visit the Wrecking Crew in San Francisco. They worked with a dedicated 4-person team of fellows to shape a generalized brief around their late payer problem: "What is the best way to empower T-Mobile customers to enhance their financial lives by leveraging wireless and other data to learn about, anticipate, and acquire products and services that meet their future financial needs?" And then, the fellows got to work.
We realized that not all late-payers are created equal; by classifying them and giving tailored offers, T-Mobile can increase on-time payments.
The team used design research techniques to get straight to the root of the problem. They recruited and met with late-paying wireless customers to deeply understand their life experiences and financial needs. The team learned that not all late payers are created equal: some customers with variable income have enough money to pay but not always at the right time, while other customers don’t pay simply because they forget. Very few late-paying customers are entirely unable to pay; they simply can’t risk signing up for automatic bill-payment because their financial situation is shaky.
To understand how T-Mobile currently handles late payers, the team connected with T-Mobile’s Director of Credit and Collections and learned that T-Mobile currently has trouble distinguishing between the different types of late payers. As a result they treat the majority of late payers the same way: first texting them with reminders to pay their bill, and eventually switching off their wireless service unless they pay. This does a good job of avoiding future losses, but also damages customer loyalty among the many customers who would otherwise eventually pay. Based on this insight, the team generated hundreds of ideas around how we might enhance customer loyalty using T-Mobile’s vast network and wireless data.
What We Made
Loyal-T is a new payment rewards platform that rewards customers for good financial behaviors. It leverages T-Mobile’s wireless data to provide contextual offers to customers in support of their goals.