Obama, Health Statistics, Student Loans and Wireless-only Households

You may be wondering "what do Obama, Health Statistics, Student Loans and Wireless-only Households have to do with each other?"  Well, besides the fact that it got you to read this blog post (at least this far), the first 3 items in this list are or have been impacted by the 4th. 

Every 6 months, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) publishes data on the number of wireless-only households.  This is important to the NCHS to understand possible bias in their survey results based on their random-digit-dialing to landlines.  As can be seen in the chart below, the % of households that only have a cell phone and no landline (count me in that number) more than tripled in the 4 years up to 2008 when it was at 17.5%.  If you add the 13.3% of households that are wireless-mostly (took all or almost all calls via cell – didn’t answer their landline), we’re looking at 30%+ of the households in the US that don’t answer or even have a landline.

Numerous articles were written leading up to the Obama-McCain Presidential Election last year dissecting the impact on polling results of landline-only polling.  Since more than a third of those under 30 years old are wireless-only, the potential for understating Obama’s lead in the polls was vigorously discussed. 

Which brings us to Student Loans.  What happens when a substantial portion of your customer (and potential debtor) base only has a cell phone?  FCC rule changes have made predictive dialing calls to wireless numbers a problem for credit grantors and debt collectors.  A December 2007 clarification by the FCC eased up somewhat on this if the creditor had prior express consent.

Add to all of this the fact that wireless devices are often Internet-enabled and a means for text messaging (SMS), and we are seeing a tidal wave of change in the way the general public interacts – not only with each other, but with businesses and contact centers.

Is your company ready?

Matt Taylor