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Operators Want Higher Smartphone Revenues, But Need to Educate Customers on Using Advanced Features

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Customer care departments at the mobile networks are struggling to cope with the more complex demands from smartphone customers, as a survey found that smartphone related support calls has increased 10 to more than 25 percent over the last two years.

Over 60 percent of service providers polled by Amdocs also 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.

The survey also found that three-quarters 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.

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. 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."

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