Business

Rogers offering free cellphone delivery, setup service — but will it work?

Rogers is offering a personalized, delivery and setup service for new cellphones. It continues the trend of retail moving from bricks and mortar to on-demand home service. But will it change the company's image when it comes to customer service?

'Everything is headed this way. Everything goes to your door now.'

Rogers has announced a personalized delivery and setuup service for new cellphones. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Rogers Communications is partnering with the man behind Apple's retail experience to offer a sort of mobile Apple Store for Rogers devices. It's another sign of the growing move away from bricks and mortar to an on-demand, convenient, personalized shopping experience, led by online retailers like Amazon and Wayfair.

The new service, announced today, is called Pro On-The-Go. Within hours of ordering their phone, Rogers says, customers can have a "pro" deliver their device, set it up, synch contacts, explain features, go over plan options, and offer accessories like cases, headsets and smart assistants. Rogers says the service will be free.

"We know how valuable our customers' time is, and getting to a store is not always convenient or easy," said Brent Johnston, president of wireless at Rogers.

"This is about making it easier for customers to get the connected device they want in a way that's convenient and personalized for them," said Johnston.

But experts say it's also about trying to retain customers in the highly profitable wireless segment and the latest attempt by Rogers to change consumer perception of the company's customer service.

Pro On-The-Go will be operated by Enjoy, a U.S. company founded by Ron Johnson. Johnson is the former head of retail for Apple who was tabbed by Steve Jobs with making his Apple Store concept a reality.

Johnson put a premium on customer experience with highly trained staff who weren't on commission. He says his latest venture, Enjoy, follows the same theme.

Ron Johnston, former head of retail for Apple who is credited with making the Apple Store a success, has partnered with Rogers in their new Pro On-The-Go service. (Tony Avelar/The Associated Press)

"We provide top-notch personalized experience right in the customer's home or office," said Johnson. "Our experts deliver the best experiences and are impeccably trained, kind people," he said.

'Dogged with complaints'

"Rogers has long been dogged with complaints around customer service. No matter how much they try to improve they've had complaints," said Marketing and Retail expert Brynn Winegard.

"Enjoy, one of the pillars of their core competency is this idea of exceptional customer service. Basically a pro to your door who will be the nicest person and they are exceptionally well trained. That answers to a lot of what Rogers is looking for."

Brynn Winegard, a marketing and retail expert, says the new service 'answers to a lot of what Rogers is looking for' in improving customer service. (Submitted by Brynn Winegard)

Winegard says there are other strategic reasons for Rogers to offer the new service, including adding value post-purchase in a way that helps retain customers at a time when they may be most likely to switch cellphone plans. 

"You re-evaluate your service provider at time of hardware replacement," she said.

But Winegard also says Rogers is looking at the current and next generation of consumers who want instant gratification and convenience, and don't want to have to go into a store.

"The Amazon effect," she says. "Everything is headed this way. Everything goes to your door now. Everyone's desperate for the consumer end dollar, and this is one of the very profitable categories."

Rogers says its new service will be the first of its kind in Canada. AT&T has partnered with Enjoy to offer the service in the U.S. since 2016.

Sprint launched its own version of a similar service called Direct 2 You in 2015. "With our new Sprint Direct 2 You fleet of cars, it's as if we are adding 5,000 additional stores," Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a release at the time.

However Sprint dropped the service just two years later.

Rogers says Pro On-The-Go will be launched in the Greater Toronto Area this month, and will be available in other large Canadian urban areas beginning next year.

About the Author

Aaron Saltzman

Senior Reporter, Consumer Affairs

Aaron Saltzman is CBC's Senior Business Reporter. Tips/Story ideas always welcome. aaron.saltzman@cbc.ca twitter.com/cbcsaltzman

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