Operators want higher smartphone revenues, but need to educate customers on using advanced features
Date: Wed, 02/23/2011 - 11:56 Source: Amdocs press department
Service providers face higher costs to support smartphone users, according to global survey; New support tools, diagnostics for call center agents can help meet challenge
At Mobile World Congress 2011, Amdocs, the leading provider of customer experience systems, announced the results of an independent survey that explores the impact of smartphone growth on service providers' support services. The in-depth survey of 55 wireless service providers worldwide, conducted by analyst firm Heavy Reading and sponsored by Amdocs, highlights the challenges providers face in supporting their growing legions of smartphone users - as well as the steps they plan to take to enhance customer support and maximize the revenue streams smartphones offer.
Key findings include:
• Smartphone support calls increase burden on call centers: Over 60 percent of the service providers polled believe that the volume of smartphone-related support calls has increased 10 to more than 25 percent over the last two years. The same percentage believe the average cost of supporting smartphones is anywhere from 10 to 50 percent above that of standard feature phones, due in part to longer call-handling times. Additionally, more than half of the incoming calls are not resolved by the initial call center representative who handles the call - further driving up costs.
• Service providers are leaving money on the table with their smartphone customers: 75 percent of service providers surveyed are looking to advanced services to increase data usage and realize additional sources of revenue from smartphone customers. But the research shows that over two-thirds of customers do not use advanced services, due to lack of awareness or understanding. In addition, customers are returning smartphone devices if they experience support issues or delays, even though there may be nothing wrong with them. Almost one-third of respondents reported that between 10 to 25 percent of their customers return smartphones, and 40 percent said that 20 to 60 percent of these phones are no-fault returns.
• New tools and technologies are needed to empower call center agents to support customers: Service providers recognize they face an increased number of support calls, yet more than half of the providers surveyed do not plan on expanding their technical support staff by more than 10 percent. Instead, 40 percent plan to use better support tools and technologies to increase efficiencies and empower agents to resolve support inquiries during the first call (one example of these advanced tools is Amdocs Device Care, a product from the Amdocs Smart Device Support Solution, which gives call center agents direct visibility into a customer's smartphone to diagnose and troubleshoot problems). Service providers are also increasingly using the Internet to resolve support issues, with 61 percent of respondents reporting that they already direct customers to a self-service portal.
"The survey confirms that smartphone support calls are increasing rapidly, caused by the dramatic increase in number of devices, features, and services," said Ari Banerjee, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. "Simply adding more call center representatives will not address the problem - efficiency, automation and outsourcing are the key mechanisms which operators will need to pursue in order to accommodate a higher volume of support calls while increasing their revenue margins."
"Even though smartphones are creating tremendous opportunities, there are significant support costs involved," said Rebecca Prudhomme, vice president of product marketing and solutions for Amdocs. "The survey results point to a critical need for more effective and efficient customer management technologies to ensure better lifecycle management and maximize the potential revenue opportunities associated with smartphones."