Keeping customers on side is more important than ever says Alan Bentley, Head of Global Strategy, Blancco
Customer retention has always been a priority for operators. Typically, at the point of sale or when the time comes for a consumer to upgrade their mobile device, they’ll make their decision based on the device they want, and which operator offers the cheapest tariff for that device.
While operators are mindful of this conundrum, they must do more to nurture customer relationships, improving the customer experience and journey, by prioritizing comprehensive customer advocacy schemes.
It’s true that with the advent of 5G, operators have an opportunity to improve customer relationships and experience by adding value to the 5G network and selling services direct to the consumer. In the consumer world, content is king, and new use cases for 5G like cloud gaming are an exciting prospect.
However, the reality is that the use cases that consumers will be willing to pay a premium for are yet to be wholly identified, and operators will have to trial and test many before they strike gold.
Meeting customer expectations when it comes to adequate device care has always been important, and remains a significant opportunity. With the latest flagship smartphone devices costing in the region of £1,000, there are few items that consumers will willingly part with cash over.
The fact of the matter is that our smartphones play a central role in our daily lives. It’s a device that many can’t live without, and if asked, the vast majority of consumers would agree that they have a much greater affinity to their smartphone than they do to their operator.
With consumers so loyal to their device, device care might be the key to improving subscriber retention through an enhanced customer experience.
A customer experience overhaul
Device protection has changed significantly over time. With the increasing value of smartphones, consumers became more incentivized to insure their devices. However, mobile insurance was always a “bolted on” offer.
The way it was sold to the customer offered very little in terms of improving the customer experience they received from their operator. Worse still, some consumers will have had their fingers burned by mobile insurance offers, losing or damaging their phone only to find out that their claim wasn’t covered under their warranty.
Offering device insurance is of course a key revenue generator for operators. The mobile insurance market was valued at USD $25.06 Billion in 2019 and is forecast to reach USD $47.93 Billion by 2027.
While operators will be keen to cash in on insurance offerings, the way it has been sold as a contract add-on needs improvement.
Operators won’t retain subscribers by offering insurance alone. It must be incorporated into a broader customer proposition, built around multiple value-added services.
A switch to more holistic device care
While insurance might be the central pillar to device care, it’s trajectory is now focused on a holistic, well rounded experience. Services are bundled together under a comprehensive protection and early upgrade proposition tying the customer strongly to their operator.
This means that not only is the device covered, but the operator supports the customer with device diagnostics, more frequent upgrade cycles and high value trade in offers to subsidise the cost of a new device.
Operators need to make clear to their customers that they understand the value of their device, how important it is to them, and reassure the customer that they will be protected with a device no matter the circumstance, and that upgrades to new models will be available at any time in their contract.
Whether customers require fault resolutions, repairs, replacement for loss or just want the latest handset, it’s the solution with a simple experience that truly matters and stands apart.
Advances in technology have revolutionised the way this holistic device care can be achieved. Applications that sit on the device can run diagnostics to inform the consumer of when they are due or entitled to an upgrade, or when the device might need to be returned for repair or replacement.
To ensure this runs smoothly, operators must have simple and expedited services that are not only simple to facilitate but remove risk and penalties for all involved.
Give customers a sense of control
More holistic device care can ultimately instil much greater consumer trust. Full visibility of the customer and device journey end to end is the innovation aiding operators in achieving higher customer advocacy.
By offering the customer more visibility into the condition of their device and when they might be able to upgrade, they’ll feel more in control of the device’s lifecycle, and thus more inclined to stay with that operator based on the quality of their experience.
There is also an increasing demand for refurbished smart phones, and in countries where 4G/LTE has only just reached relative maturity, the market for second-hand devices is booming.
Operators can add another string to their device care bow by incentivising trade-ins of used devices, with high value trade ins and a guarantee that the device will be securely processed and the data that remains appropriately sanitised.
Like many services, device care has evolved. No longer is it a simple insurance offering that is neglected or forgotten by customer and operator alike.
Rather, it’s become a 360-degree service, with full visibility for both customer and operator, that’s intent on securing high customer advocacy and improving the crucial customer experience. Yes, the products that enable the device care will help drive greater loyalty, but ultimately, it’s what the customer experiences that matters most. Simplifying and automating processes to mitigate customer frustration will be instrumental in improving subscriber relationships and retention.
Alan Bentley is the head of global strategy at Blancco, an international data security company that offers certified, secure data erasure software for a range of IT assets, including laptops, mobile devices, LUNs, virtual machines, files and more.