Providing comprehensive customer service has always been expensive for mobile carriers, but today’s proliferation of mobile users and devices has made managing busy call centers an even bigger investment. 

This challenge begs the question:  In a mobile age, are there more effective options for customer care?

According to the 2011 “Mobile Self-Service Report,” which details the findings of a poll of more than 2,000 US adults conducted by YouGov for Antenna Software, the answer is yes. In fact, when asked about their customer service experience with mobile operators, 72 percent of consumers answered they would control their accounts via their mobile device if their service provider offered a mobile application or mobile internet option. 

Dealing with call centers was the most common frustrations for US consumers according to the survey, specifically, automated systems (31 percent), hold times (23 percent) and outsourced call center staffing (21 percent). These issues add up quickly, signified by the more than three-quarters of consumers surveyed (86 percent) who are unsatisfied with their overall customer service experience.

Although most major US mobile operators offer an account landing page for customers using the mobile internet via their mobile device’s browser, the basic functionality falls short and does not allow customers to make account alterations they want control over, such as checking remaining minutes and texts via their own mobile device (35 percent) and updating calling plans (28 percent).  While mobile self managed customer service can’t replace the human touch in all instances—nor should it—it does offer customer service centers the ability to prioritize calls, in turn helping to save on costs and resources while keeping customer satisfaction top of mind and service levels high. 

Indeed these findings make it clear that there is a growth opportunity for operators to provide a self-management option to mobile customers that would provide not only the autonomy they desire, ensuring brand loyalty, but also less expensive solutions for customer care. By delivering an easy to use mobile website or mobile app–and ideally both–operators can leverage the mobile channel to improve the consumer experience and make those relationships more profitable:  every call deflected to a self-care solution creates significant call center savings. According to these survey results, operators could move as many as one in two (49 percent) of 18-24 year old customers onto a self-managed account offering if the service were available. 

In a world where consumers increasingly rely on technology to resolve their personal and professional affairs — as quickly and efficiently as possible — operators will need to be ready for them.  By providing easy to use self-service apps and websites that are consistent across all device platforms, operators can lower transaction costs and improve customer loyalty. Who can argue with that?

Research Methodology

The Mobile Internet Attitudes Report 2011 was commissioned by Antenna and conducted by YouGov, polling a nationally representative sample of 2,296 U.K. and 2,079 U.S. adults aged 18+ in January 2011. The survey was conducted online. All figures unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.

Author: Jim Somers, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Antenna Software