Chris Shelbourn, Marketing Account Manager at Affordable Mobiles, argues that mobile operators and retailers have to up their customer service game if they are to help their customers make the most of the new breed of sophisticated Smartphones
One unmissable trend in the communications industry over the past 12 months or so is our increasing obsession with Smartphones and their fantastic and diverse features. There is little doubt that the uptake of models such as the iPhone3Gs, HTC HD2 and many Android phones has revolutionised not only the way we communicate, but also the way we live, organise, plan, record and experience our lives.
Today, Smartphones are offering us applications that allow us to plan out our business and social lives like never before, providing instant access to up to date market information, emails and banking services on the business side of things, but also allowing us to find the best local bars and restaurants, check weather reports, plan our routes on journeys, and record the sites and sounds of places we visit before uploading these straight to our social networking sites.
These and other key social features that are now commonplace on many contract phones and handsets that would arguably have been deemed unthinkable around two years ago - even in the rapidly advancing world of mobile handsets.
But these rapid advances in Smartphone technology place a greater demand on the user in terms of learning how best to use and benefit from this massive array of useful - but often quite technical features. For many users, this can appear quite daunting, especially for those whose previous handset was capable of doing little more than making phone calls and sending and receiving texts.
With this in mind, there is undoubtedly an increased onus on mobile service providers, mobile retailers and other online resources to provide sufficient technical support to guide consumers through the technological maze and deliver a quality of service that extends beyond the traditional expectations of good network coverage, competitive pricing and reliable handsets.
This support has traditionally been provided in store, in a face-to-face customer services environment, but users are now increasingly demanding remote support via more contemporary media. Affordable Mobiles is an example of one online retailer and service provider that has sought to provide customer service and technical support via our website and over the phone that extends beyond the point of sale, thereby allowing users to maximise the functionality of their handsets.
We believe that providing quality of service and technical guidance in the long term can allow a company like us to win the trust of our customers and forge a longer-term relationship with them, even if it requires a little investment in time and resource on our part. The feedback we have had from our customers suggests that we are right. As handsets get even smarter, the need for mobile phone retailers and operators to provide the kind of committed support that will enable users to get more from their phones, and generate more revenues in the process, is only going to increase.