It costs an average of £50 to send a unit to a repair centre

In times of economic constraint, it is vital for businesses to find ways of reducing their costs and effectively managing their resources, whilst simultaneously ensuring that customers are satisfied with the service they are receiving. This can often be difficult, with many overlapping factors to be considered. For mobile operators, achieving such a fine balance can be crucial to their success in confronting increasingly aggressive competition.

Faced with a multitude of complicated issues, whether it be dealing with the an ever-widening range of available handsets, or trying to find the best way of promoting the sale of new apps, mobile operators are searching for innovative solutions to help them maintain a respectable bottom line.

One method that operators could consider to reduce costs and optimize resources in the high street store, would be by adopting sophisticated point-of-sale (POS) solutions that can resolve customer issues immediately without the need to incur high expenses by sending the phone to a repair shop for what often turns out to be a minor fault.

It costs an average of £50 to send a unit to a repair centre. Such costs can be dramatically reduced by the fast identification and resolution of faults at the POS. The recently launched Vodafone RED Box – a house-branded version of the Cellebrite Touch – and Vodafone’s in-store tech teams are perfect examples of how major operators are recognising the benefits of innovative POS solutions.

Fixing faults at POS

A mobile phone fault provides a prime illustration of an operating cost that could be significantly reduced with the use of this POS tool. With the average cost per device referral running at around £50.00,  Android device returns alone cost operators $2B per year, according to WDS.

When a suspected faulty phone is brought to the retail store, counter staff and engineers commence a time- and resource-consuming work cycle: providing the customer with a replacement phone; sending the suspected faulty unit to the repair centre; having technicians identify the fault, fix the device, send it back to the store, while the replacement phone is retrieved and recycled back into the store’s inventory.

But an operator can automatically analyse a mobile device at the POS, diagnose hardware and software problems and lead service agents through a simple and effective fault isolation and resolution process for common problems. Most significantly, customers with faulty phones can have them diagnosed and immediately repaired in-store within minutes without any hassle or the need to use temporary “swap” phones for a period of time. This results in increased customer satisfaction and reduced operating costs for the retailer.

Furthermore, the diagnostic process enables sales agents to explain basic smartphone usage to owners who may not yet be totally familiar with all the features and applications contained in today’s advanced devices and are thereby using them incorrectly. For example, if the battery is running low faster than normal it may be because users have too many applications running at the same time or they are using their video function too often or for too long rather than an actual operating problem.

This new diagnostic tool meets a growing demand on an issue that regularly concerns mobile operators:  reducing costs, but maintaining – and even enhancing – the customer experience with the attendant results of better customer retention and higher satisfaction.

Value Added Services: improving the customer experience

The ability to offer POS solutions does not need to be constrained to the fixing of mobile device problems; operators can also make it possible for customers to access value added services in their local high street store.

Phone transfer, personal data backup and restore, apps and content delivery all add up to a better in-store experience. Users can now be sure of having their personal content – contacts, SMS messages, video, photos and more – immediately transferred and ready to use on their new device.

Sales agents can offer a wide range of new application and content packages, ideally suited to their profiles, phone type and preferences, for instant delivery via an application loader on-line platform for managing and distributing mobile apps to the POS. Customers can be offered additional mobile apps and new content – perfectly matched to their phone model – without having to search on their own through the hundreds of thousands of applications available in the marketplace. Apps and content are installed before they leave the store thus dramatically improving the adoption and penetration of promoted applications and as a result, increasing revenues.

Significant benefits for retailers from these added value-services include being able to mount more in-store promotions, increased revenues from new device sales, upgrades and other advanced services, the opportunity to sell backup media such as CDs, USB drives etc. and reduced operating costs. Furthermore, they will offer a better POS experience, higher customer retention and retain a competitive edge in the market.

As a complementary service, retailers are now being offered the option of installing a Self-Service Point in-store, at which customers can easily perform most of the advanced services themselves – diagnostics, transfer and backup, uploading new apps and content – without any help from a sales assistant. Reduced waiting times will further increase customer satisfaction and improve the in-store experience.

Working for a better customer experience

All this, with significantly reduced waiting times, no more hassles or frustrations in changing phones and transferring content; quick and easy delivery of new apps and content and of course, being able to obtain efficient after-sales service with diagnostics giving instant feedback and solutions to fixing common faults, will dramatically change the mobile retail in-store experience. Retailers will gain a wide range of benefits which will empower their in-store point-of-sales to achieve new heights.

Yossi Carmil is Co-CEO of Cellebrite


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