Smartphone failures cause customer churn


Study shows smartphone problems leading to customer frustration and churn

The vast majority of mobile network subscribers globally have had a smartphone problem in the last 12 months. Additionally, a large number found their operator’s customer service so poor they will not buy from them again, a new study has shown.

In the last year, seven out of 10 mobile service subscribers have experienced an issue or malfunction with their smartphone, and 12% of those who looked to their mobile operator for help would not return to that operator to purchase their next device based on their customer service experience. The number of consumers stating they would purchase their next handset from a different provider due to unsatisfactory technical support, increased to 18% for respondents with an applications-related fault.

Altogether, 68% of consumer respondents had experienced an issue or malfunction with their mobile device in the past 12 months. Approximately one third of respondents suffering from battery and applications-related malfunctions claimed they first turned to their mobile operator or retailer for help, resulting in one out of every four calls to operators’ customer care centres involving trouble with a phone.

Also of concern for operators, software-related problems, which are outside operators’ control, have increased from 10% to 40% of the proportion of total faults, the study from Cellebrite, a developer and provider of mobile diagnostics solutions, and market analysis firm Ovum, shows.

No Trouble Found (NTF) claims this, which fails to identify the actual problem, accounts for typically one third of all handsets that are sent for repair, at a cost to operators that in some cases reaches $300 per unit. NTF claims typically account for 30% of all handsets sent for repair.

“The findings from this study reveal the extent of the challenge facing mobile operators: a sizable percentage of consumers are growing frustrated with their mobile service providers after experiencing problems that are completely outside of the operators’ control,” said Angel Dobardziev and Michael Philpott, Ovum co-authors of the report. “While hardware and operating system faults have stabilised, software-related or ‘soft’ faults, caused by such issues as malware-laden and faulty applications, have increased four-fold, leading to increased customer service costs and affecting customer satisfaction.”

The Ovum study’s findings highlighted the importance of an integrated, multichannel approach that addresses soft issues quickly and closer to the customer. Whether operators’ policies are to provide a loaner device or to furnish a permanent replacement, these are costly options for the operator and consume resources on the back end.

The study cited three components of the technical service function that will mitigate costs and maintain customer satisfaction are self-help applications, remote diagnostic tools and advanced in-store technical support capabilities.

“For the average consumer, the smartphone has become an indispensable device for work and play, but with that higher degree of capability comes added complexity and frustration when it fails,” said Amir Lehr, executive vice president of products and business development at Cellebrite. “This study validates feedback from a growing number of our operator customers: rapid and accurate diagnostics do more than save cost as they can save end user relationships at a critical time in the customer lifecycle.

“The Ovum study validates the true business impact of smartphone faults – customer dissatisfaction, added costs, and increased churn – and highlights the need for more advanced, easier-to-use applications that can identify smartphone issues and allow the user to resolve them at the click of a button,” continued Lehr.

He added: “Nearly 80% of consumers said they would most likely use self-diagnostic tools as a first step to issue resolution. Operators can dramatically improve the customer care experience and reduce their own cost with a multi-channel approach that puts easy to use self-service tools in customers’ hands and equips operators’ own service personnel with solutions that turn even novices into expert technicians.”

The global study examines the extent of smartphone users’ service issues and the business impacts of mobile operators’ customer technical support abilities. Ovum reached its findings based on a survey of more than 4,000 consumers in the US, UK, China and Germany, and in-depth interviews with executives of six mobile operators in these markets.


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