Claravine 2

Smart Support for Smartphones

David Murphy

David Ginsburg, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at InnoPath Software, argues that operators could help themselves by changing the way they handle customer queries and complaints related to Smartphones

What if you threw a party, and no one came? Some wireless operators must feel this way. They spend millions on developing and marketing new services with the hope of generating subscriber stickiness, and the accompanying revenues. However, many times, despite their best intentions, the service fails or is only moderately successful.  Why is this? Why do Smartphone subscribers make use of only 25% of the applications on their devices? And why, when some services are launched, do less than 5% of the subscribers successfully pass go when over 50% try to download the application? Does the problem lie with the operator, the phone manufacturer, the subscriber, or all three?

Is it a phone, or a computer?
Smartphones are really small
computers in disguise, but there seems to be an expectation that they
should be simple to use, right out of the box. Except for a few, well
publicized models such as the iPhone, this isnt usually the case.
Application settings are sometimes quite complex, and when something
goes wrong, who do you call? 
In the rush to get the latest and
greatest models into the hands of the customers, phones are shipped
with bugs impacting usability. Recent problems with this seasons
must-have, the touchscreen, only compound concerns among subscribers.
Do they make the leap to the latest and greatest, back off to a
simpler, less capable model, or hold off on their purchase altogether?
How can operators stem the tide of user dissatisfaction?
In a
hyper-competitive environment, operators look to high-ARPU data users
to balance declining voice revenues. They target these users with the
latest Smartphones, oftentimes at a high subsidy. They craft their
latest service offerings with these users in mind. But there is a dark
side. Smartphones cost more, sometimes much more, to support. At four
times the lifetime costs of more basic featurephones, a single
half-hour support call for broken email or browser settings can
eliminate any profit they hoped to gain from the subscriber. At the
same time, operators are under pressure to reduce their operational
expenses. In light of the current economic environment, where ARPU
gains fade into the distance, they need to hold on to the subscribers
they have. This is sometimes at odds with the need to reduce support
costs, with any drop in customer satisfaction accompanied by a rise in
churn. So is there a way out?

What if?
What if, when a customer called in with a
problem, the care representative could reach out and touch the device,
checking it for any problems while the user was still on the phone?
Theyd check the phones application settings, correcting anything that
looked wrong. What if they could easily push updates to the phone
over-the-air, addressing those touchscreen problems mentioned earlier?
What if they had a simple and error-free way of configuring the phones
at the point of purchase, avoiding later frustration?  And, what if,
when a user did call in with a problem, they had the tools at their
disposal to help with usability questions?
Today, over 30% of all
calls are related to configuration, and 25% of all issues are never
resolved in a whole year. In any other industry, this would be a
failing grade.  Just think if 25% of new cars were in the shop
constantly. Maybe we need a lemon law for mobile phones.
Device Management (MDM), a technology offering the operator a way to
touch the phone over-the-air, is the solution. No longer running blind,
frontline customer care representatives now have a direct channel to
the device, with an ability to check on software, hardware and
application settings. They can even check to see if Bluetooth settings
are mis-configured. Through this visibility, they can be much more
efficient when working a user through in issue. In fact, MDM can save
operators billions of dollars annually in reduced call expenses by
shaving just a few minutes off off every call. They can immediately
tell if a phone needs an update, pushing it out, and either addressing
known issues or enabling the user to benefit from new applications. The
positive impact on first-time problem resolution and customer
satisfaction goes without saying.
MDM, by offering operators an
effective way to address bugs, configuration errors, and usability
issues, also impacts service rollout, by creating confidence that
errors can be addressed, even if the phone is in the hands of the user.
It enables operators to  market new, high margin services more
aggressively, safe in the knowledge that if changes need to be made,
they can push out updates. And, they can even update phones already in
the hands of subscribers to be able to take advantage of these new
services, thereby expanding their addressable market. MDM may very well
be the tool that turns the tide of service adoption and customer