David Heled of Cellebrite writes:
Smartphones are now by far and away the communication, payment and information device of choice for consumers and enterprises. Sales are set to overtake those of traditional feature phones this year for the first time. However, the increasing complexity of the devices’ technology means that there’s a lot more that can go wrong, and make it harder for mobile retailers to identify potential problems – and it’s costing them millions per every year.
As the use of mobile internet continues to rise, increased connectivity and heightened competition has forced operators to drive down prices and look for revenue elsewhere. Just recently, a report from Juniper Research suggested that 50 per cent of data traffic generated by smartphones will be offloaded to Wi-Fi this year – a further cause for concern for operators worldwide. Operators need to make efficiencies wherever possible, and the unnecessary wastage of over £21.6 million a year caused by consumers and retailers sending perfectly functional smartphones away for repair is simply unacceptable.
In the UK alone approximately 60,000 mobile phones are reported as ‘faulty’ each month. For mobile retailers and operators this results in an unfavourable cost of £50 per device, plus the loss of revenue from usage as the phone is sent away to the network operator’s repair centre to be fixed. But what many operators and retailers fail to realise is that sending customers phones away to the repair centre isn’t always necessary. So why then are many wasting money on shipping away mobile devices?
The expectation issue
The most common mobile faults can be divided into three main categories: battery-related problems, connectivity issues and application or software problems. However, in over 50 per cent of cases these issues can be resolved within minutes or, perhaps more surprisingly, are not even faults at all.
In many cases, the problem is actually down to an expectation issue, rather than a fault with the device itself. When switching from an old feature phone to the latest smartphone, consumers expect the performance of the device to remain the same, but with smartphones now capable of doing a lot more, this expectation is unrealistic.
For example, one of the most common faults reported with smartphones is that ‘the battery drains too quickly’, but often this is based on a comparison with the performance of old feature phones. Whilst the battery on these phones could easily carry the device for three days without recharging, these phones didn’t have half as many features.
Another frequently reported problem is that the mobile phone won’t take pictures, when in fact it’s simply that the device is full and won’t save the images. However, without the technology in place in store to analyse the device, many mobile operators and retailers are sending away the smartphone just to find this out.
Using technology to their advantage
As many consumers make the switch to the latest devices this year, the pressure on mobile operators and retailers is only going to increase. Whilst around 30 per cent of mobile phone faults are a result of expectation or misuse problems, a further 60 per cent are caused by software or application issues – all of which can be fixed without the need to send the device away.
With the growing number and complexity of ‘smarter’ devices, it is imperative that mobile operators realise that traditional approaches to diagnostics and repair are no longer adequate in coping with the rising number of reported faults and consumers’ dependence on such devices. In a time where revenue is falling and monetisation opportunities are decreasing, mobile operators and their retail counterparts cannot afford to waste money.
Technology is now available to provide in-store and remote diagnostics and repair and it is time for mobile operators to start using this to their advantage. Devices such as the Cellebrite DeskTop enable operators and independent retailers to identify and fix a host of problems – from basic user error to more serious mobile malware and malicious applications – all from the comfort of an in-store PC. This technology also aids in transferring data from old phones to new devices.
This innovative technology enables operators to make huge cost-efficiency savings, but by removing the need for consumers to sacrifice their device and providing a key differentiator in an increasingly competitive marketplace, it can also substantially improve that all-important customer service.
Many operators are now recognising the benefits on both cost-efficiencies and customer service and taking proactive steps to implement such technology, but those who fail to do so may need to prepare themselves for losing customers to their more competitors that do.
|David Heled is Vice President R&D at Cellebrite.
We talked to Dave Golding of Cellebrite about smartphone fault diagnosis in a podcast last year. You can listen to the interview via the built-in audio player on our website or by downloading the MP3 file.