The results of our global study Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends 2017 show that we can no longer live our everyday lives without our mobile companions. Many people would rather go without family, friends and sex than be apart from their smartphone for a week. If a device breaks, fast and seamless help is needed. Customer care has the greatest impact on people’s satisfaction with their device – a huge opportunity for mobile and IoT brands that want to differentiate themselves through excellent service in an increasingly competitive market.
The smartphone’s display smashes, the touchscreen doesn’t respond, the software freezes or the device cannot be turned on at all. The problems that can occur when using a smartphone are numerous and can make users despair. 25 percent of all Millennials spend more than five hours on their mobile phones daily; in India it is almost 30 percent and in Brazil even as high as 40 percent. It is easy to see how users panic when their smartphone breaks.
Repair Speed Way Below Customer Expectations
Service and repair must be quick but many smartphone brands fail to meet their customers’ expectations. On a global average, people find a processing time of two to three days quite acceptable for a device repair. Yet, according to our study, the actual repair time is two to three weeks. Considering that up to three days waiting time is just considered “acceptable”, excellent customer service should solve a problem in 24 hours or less. For many, the smartphone has become the remote control of their daily lives – they can’t do without it for more than a day.
In addition to the speed of repair, two other factors play a key role for customer care satisfaction. People expect competent staff providing expert advice. This is accompanied by the third aspect, one which is gaining relevance in connection with the increasing technical complexity of smartphones and IoT devices. Customers expect precise information about what happens to their device during the repair process. Which parts have been replaced? Has the software been updated? Have any changes been made to the settings? Such information is important, especially for customers who use their smartphones to control their home entertainment or home automation system. Changes to the device during the repair process can have a significant effect on usage afterwards.
Excellent Customer Care is an Effective Competitive Advantage
With the growing emotional bond between people and their smartphones, customer care is becoming increasingly significant as the most important influencing factor for satisfaction with a smartphone brand. Prof. Dr. Anton Meyer, Director of the Institute for Marketing at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, confirms: “Smartphone brands that understand the value of customer care have a real competitive advantage. There is no better way to differentiate a brand than making customer service a top priority.”
Quick and easy access to customer care continues to develop into one of the most important differentiation features in the global smartphone providers’ battle for customer loyalty. However, contrary to our expectations, people prefer a very classical service experience. Our study showed that the shop where they bought the smartphone is the most popular option when service is needed. Support via email is the second, online support the third preferred service option. Prof. Dr. Anton Meyer comments: “When it comes to customer care, most people still prefer to go to a store and talk with a service agent face to face – a complete contradiction in a world where most things happen online.”
Dependency Increases with IoT Connectivity and High-end Smartphones
Customer expectations regarding speed and quality in customer care are increasing exponentially. The trend towards consumer IoT devices is accelerating with growth rates in the three-digit percentage range. The increasing connectivity with virtual reality headsets, drones or smart home automation and smart security solutions leads to an ever-growing dependency. At the same time, the trend towards more expensive smartphones is emerging. Taken together, mobile and IoT brands face new challenges in customer care. However, whoever acts now can turn customer care into a sustainable competitive advantage that will be hard to copy.
Summary: Our global study Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends 2017 confirms how obsessed people are with their smartphones and IoT devices. The importance of excellent customer care increases in this context. People rely more than ever on their devices and expect fast and competent help if a problem occurs. For smartphone and IoT manufacturers, excellent customer care is one of the most effective strategies to strengthen their brand.
Kimberly Meyer is Head of Global Marketing & Communication at B2X.