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How digital transformation is shifting customer expectations

I just want to tell you a quick story. Recently, I left my phone switched on during a flight by mistake, so when I arrived in Brazil I didn’t have any battery.

The name and address of the hotel I was staying at was on my phone, so I had to plug in to get some power to obtain the address of the hotel before I could leave the airport terminal. Bottom line is, like numerous others, without my phone I am completely lost.

As my story typifies, we have become increasingly reliant on our mobile phones, with the device in our pocket becoming centre to our whole lives. To such an extent, that in one survey respondents admitted they would rather not brush their teeth for the day than be without their mobile phone.

It’s perhaps no surprise, nowadays without a mobile phone you can’t communicate, don’t know where you’re meant to be, can’t easily access the internet, can’t access your work files, or likely won’t be able to undertake your banking.

Consumer expectations are rising

Because mobile phones are so central to our lives, we expect them to work perfectly all of the time. However, the more the phone does (more apps, higher quality pictures and video etc.) the more chance there is of compromised performance. An Ovum study found that over two thirds (68 per cent) of respondents had suffered some kind of issue with their handset over the past 12 months. Even with so called ‘softer’ issues such as battery issues or application related malfunctions, they would usually turn to their mobile operator/retailer first to fix the problem. This has, therefore, put an increased pressure on them to provide expertise and swift resolution of issues ‘in store’.

Effective customer service within the aftermarket has become critical for a mobile operator’s customer retention and ultimate success. This, in turn, has put mounting pressure on aftermarket service (AMS) providers to provide faster resolution, more robust fixes and be able to securely wipe devices to enable trade ins and boost take up rate.

Customer experience is the new battleground

With signal strength and handset choice differing little between operators, customer experience has increasingly become the key point of differentiation. Gartner agrees, with its survey suggesting that customer experience is the new battleground, with 89 per cent of companies expected to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience this year, versus only 36 per cent at the beginning of the decade.

However, good customer service is expensive. Competition and the commoditisation of core offerings have driven a profit erosion for operators, creating a need for them to improve efficiencies. Whilst there was historically an inherent trade-off of prioritising either customer experience or operational efficiency, now technology can allow both.

Driving both customer experience and operational efficiency through technology

There is often a natural mistrust from the customer towards an in-store service rep, with them sometimes unfairly being perceived as nothing but a pushy salesman. However, with technology, the sales rep can become empowered. Through connecting the device to the system, the rep can instantly draw data from the CRM and decide whether it is prudent to offer an upgrade. The same system can also evaluate the internal health of the phone. If relevant, it can even obtain real-time accurate data from a phone broker on the trade-in price of the device – which is often more than the customer would have expected.

Customer service doesn’t end there. Once the customer has chosen their new device they will want to transfer all of their contacts, pictures, videos and apps to the new device, and will require their old device to be thoroughly wiped of any personal data. If this can be undertaken seamlessly and quickly while they wait, it can lead to a real brand advocate.

Diagnostics for the people

Whilst a while ago sending your phone away to get fixed may have been an option, in this always-on, always-connected generation of modern consumer, no one wants to have to send their device away to a lab for a few days.

Now it is necessary for even the temporary workers in an operator’s store to become an instant techno-geeks for swift problem resolution. With the same technology as the above, the rep can simply plug the device in and within minutes a full health check of the device will be undertaken. Issues can be corrected almost instantly, meaning the customer can once again leave the store with a smile on their face.

Bringing consumers and operators together

Technology truly is bringing consumers and operators together for a better user experience, while at the same time improving cost efficiencies across all channels – both in-store and beyond.

So, whilst digital transformation has shifted customer expectations it has, in many ways, also been the driving factor to shoring up deep reaching customer relationships that could last for years.

Amir Lehr, EVP, products & business development mobile lifecycle at Cellebrite

Image Credit: Bevan Goldswain / Shutterstock