With sales set to overtake those of traditional feature phones for the first time in 2013, smartphones have become the communication, payment and information device of choice for consumers and enterprises alike. However, despite an increase in smartphone penetration, the mobile market remains a difficult place for many operators.
As the use of mobile Internet continues to rise, increased connectivity and heightened competition has forced operators to drive down prices and look for revenue elsewhere. Just recently, a report from Juniper Research suggested that 50 percent of data traffic generated by smartphones will be offloaded to Wi-Fi this year - a further cause for concern for operators worldwide. So it may come as a surprise that mobile operators and retailers are unnecessarily wasting over S$42.9 million (US$34.3 million) a year on mobile phone fault diagnostics and repair.
In the UK alone, about 60,000 mobile phones are reported as 'faulty' each month. For mobile retailers and operators, this results in an unfavourable cost of approximately S$99 per device, plus the loss of revenue from usage as the phone is sent away to the network operator's repair centre to be fixed. But what many operators and retailers fail to realise is that sending customers' phones away to the repair centre isn't always necessary. So why then are many wasting money on shipping away mobile devices?
The expectation issue
The most common mobile faults can be divided into three main categories: battery-related problems, connectivity issues and application or software problems. However, in 60 per cent of cases these issues can be resolved within minutes or, perhaps more surprisingly, are not even faults at all.
In many cases, the problem is actually down to an expectation issue, rather than a fault with the device itself. When switching from an old feature phone to the latest smartphone, consumers expect the performance of the device to remain the same, but with smartphones now capable of doing a lot more, this expectation is unrealistic.
For example, one of the most common faults reported with smartphones is that 'the battery drains too quickly', but often this is based on a comparison with the performance of old feature phones. Whilst the battery on these phones could easily carry the device for three days without recharging, these phones didn't have half as many features.
Another frequently reported problem is that the mobile phone won't take pictures, when in fact it's simply that the device is full and won't save the images. However, without the technology in place in store to analyse the device, many mobile operators and retailers are sending away the smartphone just to find this out.
Using technology to their advantage
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