With so many phones on the market, and different options for price plans, purchasing a mobile online can be a daunting prospect for customers.
This is where a good selector tool can be useful. It can assist customers to find a mobile and tariff that matches their needs, and can lead to increased customer confidence and more sales.
This is the topic of our Customer Experience Benchmarking: Telecoms and Mobile Phones: Selector Tools Report, produced in association with Global Reviews.
I've been looking at some of the UK mobile networks' websites to see how their selector tools are helping customers to make an informed decision about a mobile handset and price plan.
The link to the Orange selector tool is not immediately obvious from the homepage, and once you find the 'phones best for' link, it isn't as comprehensive as it might be.
It does address customer needs, in as far as it helps them to choose a phone based on their priorities; camera, music etc, but these options aren't really broad enough:
Also, once you have selected a category, it doesn't allow you to compare the features of the various phones, only to pick one at a time.
The main selector tool is better, but it is also basic. It shows 45 different phones and allows yo to filter by brand and feature (camera, email etc) it doesn't allow for detailed comparison.
After this, you can choose a plan according to price, minutes etc, and this works OK, but the choice could be wider.
3 has gone for an interactive selector tool to help customers to set the right blend of texts and free talktime:
This is a fun way to approach the issue, and it recommends the best price plan based on the number of texts and minutes selected. This could have been more useful if two or three plans were showcased, so that customers feel that they have been given a decent amount of information on which to base their decision:
What 3 does well here though, is it to funnel customers into the process of choosing and purchasing a phone and tariff, with the steps in the process shown by the progress bar.
After selecting the price plan, customer are directed towards this phone comparison table:
However, it doesn't provide enough options to pick a suitable handset. All customers can do is choose by brand, rather than being able to filter by the phones' features, which would have been more useful.
02's website does have a comparison tool, but it doesn't make it easy to find from the homepage. Users can choose handsets create and compare pay monthly packages side by side:
This allows for excellent comparison of features of both handsets and tariffs side by side, providing useful information to help customers decide:
Bill Monitor, which compares phones and tariffs across various networks, provides a useful and simple selector tool that allows users to select phones and tariffs according to needs:
You can choose how many minutes and texts you need, but also whether you need extra features such as mobile internet, international calls etc.
Also, the results page allows for easy comparison of phones and tariffs, and there are some useful filters and sorting options to narrow down searches and make sense of results:
The quality of the selector tools and comparison tables varies across the mobile network's websites, and I think all could do more to make product selection and comparison easier, especially for users who may not be up to speed with the latest handsets.
Also, none of the network sites mentioned here provide a prominent and clear link to the selector/comparison tools from their homepages to give customers a clear starting point for their product search.
For more detail and analysis on this issue, see Customer Experience Benchmarking: Telecoms and Mobile Phones: Selector Tools.