Sprint Corp. Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure got his start in the wireless industry in 1996, selling Motorola flip phones directly to customers from his car. Now he’s bringing that same personalized service to Sprint.
Sprint subscribers in Kansas City, Kansas, and soon in Miami and Chicago can upgrade to new phones by appointment with a trained technician who will make house or office calls. They will activate the phones, transfer personal files such as contacts and pictures and offer tutorials free.
“We said we will make Sprint the easiest company to deal with,” said Claure, who led Brightstar in Miami until his appointment last year at Sprint’s chief. “This addresses most people’s concerns and transforms the way they can buy a new phone.”
Drivers in a fleet of bright yellow Direct 2 You labeled cars will meet customers in their homes and workplaces, or a local coffee shop if they prefer. They will deliver, set up and demonstrate the customer’s new phone as well as transfer contacts, photos, apps and other data from the customer’s previous phone.
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The visit also includes a signal check to learn, for example, whether the customer is getting a strong enough signal in the basement.
The service starts out as an offer to customers who are eligible for a phone upgrade, though it will expand to include new customers. As an upgrade feature, it adds to Sprint’s efforts to hang on to customers, something the company has struggled to do in recent years.
“It’s about creating customer delight,” Millar said. “And delighted customers become loyal customers.”
The Direct 2 You initiative highlights Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint’s efforts to hold on to subscribers and reverse years of customer defections. T-Mobile US Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. wireless carrier, gained more than 8 million users last year bringing the company to 55 million, and almost neck-and-neck with Sprint’s 55.9 million.
Under Claure, Sprint has initiated cellphone leases in which the customer can return a phone to the carrier for an upgrade or buy it at the end of the lease.
Sprint also is in the process of establishing retail operations inside about 1,400 RadioShack outlets, an expansion that will add 3,500 retail jobs to Sprint’s payroll.
The service will expand to Chicago and Miami on April 20 and throughout the nation as the year progresses.
The delivery service mirrors in part a story Claure told last year about his early days as the owner of a small cellphone store in the Boston area. Working on the idea of 30-minute pizza delivery, he hired drivers to deliver phones to customers and grew his one store into the largest cellphone retailer in the Northeastern United States.
Scott Moritz of Bloomberg News and Mark Davis of McClatchy Newspapers contributed to this report.