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Customer Care in the Age of the Smartphone
Don't let confusion around new devices undermine future opportunities.
Posted Jan 27, 2010
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Expected to capture more than 75 percent of the total mobile base by 2014, the smart phone market shows no signs of slowing down. 

Smart phones have changed everything: The way we do business, the way we find the nearest gas station, the way we manager our schedules, and much more. For wireless service providers, these advanced devices encourage the use of data-heavy services and undoubtedly open up new sources of revenue. However, numerous devices, different operating platforms, multiple networks, varied firmware, and a multitude of feature menus make both using and supporting these devices increasingly complicated. Additionally, the variety of connectivity options and the greater number of revenue-generating applications and services adds increase complexity to the problem of device care. 

Spiraling Costs, Underutilized Services, and Unnecessary Returns

Configuration complexities associated with a new generation of smart phones are putting a burden on service providers as their top-tiered customer service agents have neither the device knowledge nor the insight to resolve incoming queries. The result is a greater call volume and longer call handling times. While the agent may have general customer information at hand, he typically does not have other missing pieces of the puzzle, such as the model of the phone, the firmware the device is running, or the applications the customer has. More often than not, the agent has no choice but to simply pass the call along to technical support. This leads to increased call volume, longer average handling times, and an overall increase in support costs due to the higher rates associated with technical support teams.  

As end users struggle to configure their smart phones, applications and services go underutilized. Moreover, the opportunity to encourage the use of additional features is lost as frustrated customers look to either swap devices, or cancel their service altogether — ultimately leading to current and future wasted average revenue per user (ARPU) generation.

Consumer frustration and dissatisfaction with devices often result in unnecessary returns as customers incorrectly mistake an inability to configure their smart phone with device malfunction. These returns result in walk-ins to retail stores, often the site where the device was originally purchased. As a result, the retail agents' time is wasted, and unnecessary funds may be spent on refurbishing these functional phones. Customer dissatisfaction also leads to negative buzz in the market about the usability and value of these new offerings, damaging potential future sales and undermining customer confidence in the brand. 

Merging CRM and Mobile Device Management

As these issues become more commonplace, service provides must rethink how best to deliver customer care. As the two areas of support, namely regular customer support and technical support around the device begin to merge, service providers must position themselves to be able to deal with all of these problems at the first point of contact  — as opposed to the traditional process of handing off the call to a third-line technical support team. 

So how is this done? The answer lies in effectively merging traditional CRM care functionality with specific mobile device management functionality, thereby extending smart phone support to the heart of the call center. In doing so, level 1 and 2 agents are empowered to have a unified view of the customer's device and all the services they are entitled to use. As a result, this innovative solution gives agents real-time device diagnostic information, allowing for better insight into common device issues.

Agents now effectively become experts and a multitude of tasks that would normally not fall within the realm of level 1 support can be dealt with on the first call, without the need for escalation to technical support. Issues can now be solved at a click of a button, such as:

  • install and un-install of applications;
  • administer over-the-air lock and clearing of lost or stolen devices; and
  • apply configuration fixes.

By providing these functionalities on the agent's existing desktop, how-to solutions, device advisories, and step-by-step guidance all have the potential to make device troubleshooting quicker, easier, and cheaper for service providers. For instances when it's absolutely necessary to escalate to technical support, agents can pass on calls with all contextual information from the original query, improving the overall customer experience.

For end users, the merging of traditional CRM care functionality with specific mobile device management functionality can have an impact on their overall experience as they spend less time trying to resolve configuration specific queries and more time using the service. 

For the service provider, it offers a chance to keep the customer satisfied while substantially reducing support costs.

About the Author

Scott Kolman (scott.kolman@amdocs.com) is global marketing lead of customer management for Amdocs. With more than 20 years of high-tech marketing experience, Kolman is responsible for defining the market strategy and direction, creating awareness, positioning, and bringing to market Amdocs’ customer management products and solutions.

Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top.
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For the rest of the January 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

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To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com
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