Lead strategist, facilitator, prototype maker. I documented our process on a tumblr blog.

Choosing an optimal cell phone plan and switching carriers is a painful process for most. In interviews with consumers, we heard a lot about a fear of switching. Many people had a sense that they were not getting the best deal but also resisted switching because of fear that another carrier might be worse. While some have brand loyalty to the company they are with, most are frequently looking for the best deal. Trends with carriers include plans with no contracts and unlimited talk and text, which boils down the decision for most consumers to price and coverage.

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Carriers are constantly changing their plans, making it difficult for consumers to make an apples-to-apples comparison. Newer, smaller carriers sometimes have good prices but it is not always clear what networks they run on and, ultimately, what kind of coverage one can expect.

Consumer Reports’ data on cell phone carriers was collected through their survey research center.  Over 106,000 consumers reported on their experience with 21 carriers. The output of the annual survey was a set of scores for each carrier based on the consumer responses. We were seeing an opportunity to extract more insight based on the questions our target audience was asking themselves.

Our problem statements
A diligent researcher trying to sift through the details needs to clearly understand all of the options in optimizing the value of a cell phone plan because carrier pricing is not straightforward and they are unhappy with how much they are paying.

A value optimizer, weighing their options in switching cell phone carriers, needs to understand the experience of consumers at smaller carriers because trusted reviews on these carriers from consumers in their neighborhood are hard to find.

We brainstormed and iterated on solutions, checking with consumers via surveys and interviews. View our full process documented here. We narrowed down our solutions to 3 prototyped concepts:

The Ultimate Cell Phone Plan Finder:
An attempt to make all plans across the Big 4 comparable 1:1
Emphasis on a DIY-approach to exploring and ‘playing with’ the data

Cell Plan Genie:
Emphasis on education and giving a strong recommendation

Real Talk:
User-Generated Carrier Profiles
“What carriers don’t want you to know”

I documented our process on a tumblr blog.