Global presence, fragmented service networks and hundreds of outsourcing partners are the characteristics of customer care operations in the mobile industry. At the same time, customer service has become a key differentiator for mobile brands. But how do you ensure a superior customer experience considering the complexity of global service operations? We have explored how data and analytics help improve customer care.
An average smartphone brand ranging among the top 10 players does business in more than a hundred countries and sells 50 to 100 million devices per year or even more. It serves a global user base of more than 100 million people, all of them expecting superior customer care – at any time, at any place in the world. Since Apple’s invention of the smartphone a decade ago the global market increased from 118 million units in 2007 to 1.4 billion shipped smartphones in 2015 – in other words, the market grew by more than 1,000 percent.
Service Operations Need to Tick Like a Swiss Watch
While this market development created exceptional business opportunities for the mobile industry it also imposed a new operational challenge on all mobile device manufacturers: In order to keep up with the rapid pace and keep customers satisfied, operational capacities for providing customer care globally had to be established in no time. As a result, service networks became heterogeneous with a lack of global process standards and a level of technology integration that could be improved. During a period of hyper-growth this situation did not get a lot of attention and customer service was often perceived as a ‘necessary evil’. But now, where the market is saturated and competition among mobile brands is growing, customer service is back on the executive agenda. Our own research confirmed that great service is the single most important repurchase criteria for customers when they consider buying a newsmartphone. It’s no wonder that in Gartner’s last executive survey, CEO’s rank customer service as the most important priority after growth and they expect global care operations to tick like a Swiss watch.
1. Overcome the Data Integration Challenge with Data as a Service
While the fragmentation of service networks cannot be reduced from one day to the next, data helps service organizations shed some light on their operations. A concept called Data as a Service (DaaS) integrates customer care data from thousands of data points across the globe, harmonizes it and makes it available for further use. In a landscape with multiple outsourcing partners operating contact and repair centers, DaaS overcomes integration challenges and technical complexities. It pulls data from all involved parties across the ecosystem, harmonizes and redistributes it. Unlike rigid point-to-point integrations and standalone solutions, DaaS works like a data broker. It connects data points across the entire network – retail shops, logistics providers, call centers, repair centers and even customers directly via self-help solutions, for example SMARTAPP and SMARTWEB by B2X.
2. Analyze Data and Enable Proactive Decision-Making
Our customer care survey confirmed that every second smartphone owner expects repair turn-around times of less than 24 hours. What happens if reverse logistics take longer than expected, required spare parts are not available or the repair site has reached its maximum repair capacity? Thanks to DaaS, customer care organizations have access to that type of information. Technology platforms like SMARTCARE Technology use this data and make service interactions and connecting processes transparent through analytics dashboards. They identify trends to prevent any disruptions and predict problems through real-time analytics and proactive decision support.
3. Automate Customer Care Processes
Since smartphone users expect instant access to service whenever they need help, self-help tools are the most natural starting point of any customer care journey. The digitization of the customer interface enables service organizations also to minimize human interaction and automate the entire service process – end-to-end. With built-in intelligence, on-device support applications like SMARTAPP can diagnose a device and even anticipate issues before they happen. If a device needs to be repaired, the entire service process including operational processes like logistics and spare parts supply can be completely automated, resulting in a seamless customer experience and streamlined operations across the globe.
Summary: The rapid growth of the mobile industry has led to heterogeneous service networks – a challenge for care organizations that require visibility for delivering superior customer service. Data as a Service overcomes that challenge as it connects data points across the customer care ecosystems. Real-time analytics keeps track of service interactions and process automation helps anticipate and mitigate issues.
Wolf-Christof Matthaeus and Ehab Elhosary are Senior Managers Solution Design at B2X.