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Mobile phone faults causing consumers to switch operator

Survey shows poor service of faulty devices by operators causing customers to change networks

Mobile phone faults causing consumers to switch operator
Software-related problems now account for 40% of all reported mobile faults.

Faults with mobile phones and poor service from operators to help fix those faults are driving an increasing number of consumers to shift operators, according to a survey conducted by analyst company Ovum and mobile diagnostics solutions provider Cellebrite.

The survey of 4,000 consumers in the US, UK, China and Germany, found that 68% of consumer respondents had experienced an issue or malfunction with their mobile device in the past 12 months. Twelve percent 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.

In these markets, where handsets are typically purchased as part of a plan from the mobile operator, the survey results highlighted the need for operators to improve their technical support capabilities for customers. Customer service was cited as one of the top three reasons for switching operator.

One out of every four calls to operators' customer care centres involve trouble with a phone, and the survey also found a steep rise in software-related problems, which account for 40% of total faults. Around one third of respondents suffering from battery and applications-related malfunctions claimed they first turned to their mobile operator or retailer for help.

Fourteen percent of respondents stated that, based on the operators' inability to fix their problem quickly and satisfactorily, they would look to purchase their next handset from a different provider.

"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, 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 survey found that the cost of services, repairing or replacing customer's faulty devices was a burden on operators. No Trouble Found (NTF) claims, which fail to identify the actual problem, account typically for one third of all handsets that are sent for repair, at a cost to operators that in some cases reaches $300 per unit.

In terms of technical support capabilities, the survey found that staff often resort to brute force resolutions - flashing the phone software or resetting the device to factory conditions. While offering temporary relief, problems resurface when consumers, unaware of what caused the original problem, reintroduce troubled apps or suboptimal configuration settings.
Further, 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," added Lehr. "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."

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