The 2015 UK Communications Market Review (CMR) from Ofcom tells us that the smartphone is now the device of choice for internet access and that some two-thirds of the population has such a phone on their person or thereabouts – but what if you lose it? Or if it malfunctions?

Today’s always-connected mobile environment has long held the potential for mobile addiction. Smartphone technology has simplified the way we live by providing a seamless connection to anything and everything, a proverbial lifeline where users can perform a multitude of tasks, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Ease of use and perpetual online access, has created an unbreakable bond with mobile phones – also known as phone dependency. Such is the addiction to mobile devices, it was just a matter of time before the symptoms of the smartphone dependency secured its very own term. Nomophobia is the now term and is used to describe the pain of being separated from ones mobile phone.

Unfortunately, separation can come all too often as mobile devices have become the main target for malware. Malicious apps can wreak havoc on the device, and significantly reduce its performance, sending the unaware user into a helpless frenzy – the target of their anger, in most cases, is directed at the network provider, retail store or even the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). Separation from the device is inevitable if the provider cannot quickly resolve the issue – worst case scenario, customers look for another provider.

Amir Lehr, VP of cellular products at Cellebrite, says that multichannel diagnostics keeps your customers close, and their phones even closer.

‘In a recent survey we conducted with analyst firm Ovum, 70 per cent of 4,000 mobile phone customers said they had experienced an issue or malfunction with their smartphone in the past year, and of those experiencing a problem, 14 per cent said they would switch network provider based on their customer service experience. The research suggested that smartphone users are quick to point the finger at network providers for the majority of faults with their handsets, but providers are not always fully equipped to deal with the problems customers present to them. This can lead to frustrations for both parties.

The biggest hurdle that the user-provider relationship faces is that the number of software-related problems have increased from 10 to 40 per cent of the proportion of total mobile phone faults in the past year. While hardware and operating system faults have stabilised, software-related or ‘soft’ faults, caused by issues such as malware and faulty applications, have increased four-fold, leading to a rise in customer service costs. As a result, customers are taking out their frustrations on their network provider but, in many circumstances, it’s due to a problem the network provider can’t resolve. When a fault can’t be fixed, the frustration on both sides grows.

To help fix this problem and calm frustrations, providers must focus on offering an integrated, multichannel approach that addresses ‘soft’ issues much faster and much closer to the customer. Currently, providers are quick to loan devices to their customers, and even permanent replacements, if the fault can’t be fixed. This can prove costly to the provider and can leave the customer feeling fretful due to the length of time they may be without a handset, or the fact they may permanently lose the device they have a longstanding attachment with. However, the technology is now here to help eradicate these problems. Customer dissatisfaction, high costs and increased churn can be resolved in several ways. First, by self-diagnostic apps on the customer’s phone, and secondly, if this fails, by advanced in-store and out-of-store technical support capabilities.

Providers need to work at resolving the issues they are faced with. Customers should be taking advantage of the easier-to-use self-diagnostic applications that can help them resolve faults without the need to even contact their provider. This DIY approach to mobile diagnostics can allow users to identify the issue and often fix it at the click of a button. The research conducted with Ovum highlighted that nearly 80 per cent of consumers said they would be likely to use such self-diagnostic tools as a first step resolution so it’s an approach many users are willing to explore today. Therefore, providers need to offer customers these self-diagnostic apps now.

Poor customer service from the provider is one of the main reasons for customer churn. Our research shows that 25 per cent of customers choose to switch provider because of this. So it is imperative that providers make use of the latest technology available to keep these customers.

The less time a subscriber is separated from their device, the better. And, if their provider goes the extra mile to provide self-care solutions, even better. Empowering customers with the ability to solve phone problems when they happen, reduces churn and keeps their mobile device, at arm’s length – right where it should be.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine