Plume — a manufacturer of Mesh Wi-Fi extenders — announced earlier this month that its plans to turn home Wi-Fi into a subscription service. Plume will start charging customers an annual fee of $60 (a lifetime membership costs $200) for their ‘Adaptive Wi-Fi service’. The cost for this service is above and beyond the price that customers already pay for the initial purchase of the hardware, which starts at $179. Consumers need to pay the monthly fee to keep their devices “fully functional”. Those that do not will find that their Plume systems “won’t work as well as they’re supposed to”.
As I reported in a recent blog, companies like Amazon and Best Buy are also entering the market with services that provide consumers with on-demand, on-site technical support for home networking issues.
When consumers are left to their own devices to buy their own devices (pun intended), these companies are not only going to happily sell them a router, but they’re now also going to sell them in-home Wi-Fi assessments and home network set-up services, extended warranties, and technical support.
When their new subscription-based technical support service was announced, Best Buy’s vice president of services made their intentions very clear: “We’re transitioning from a transactional business to having more of a support relationship — supporting all of the technology in a customer’s home.”
And once that initial relationship is established, chances are good that it is going to keep expanding. Further, if your subscribers see value in paying monthly fees to other companies — like Best Buy/Geek Squad, Amazon or Plume — it is going to be very hard for you, as their service provider, to disrupt these relationships or to sell your subscribers additional, potentially overlapping, services.
Letting these competitors establish ever-stronger relationships with your subscribers results in you being relegated to providing ever-faster, but ever-cheaper, Internet access to the home. And nothing else.
And, as I’ve discussed before, regardless of where devices are purchased, or what kind of support they get from these other suppliers, your subscribers are still likely to call your help desk when the others can’t solve their issues.
One way to respond is to offer a Managed Wi-Fi service. Learn more about Managed Wi-Fi by watching the webinar, Show Me, Don't Tell Me: Real-World Benefits of Focusing on Subscriber Experience. You’ll learn about the importance of Managed Wi-Fi and how All West Communications is using it to elevate subscriber experience.
What other companies have you seen making offers similar to Geek Squad, Amazon, and Plume? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to start the discussion below.
Updated: September 11, 2018