December 06, 2011
Telcos Would Benefit By Offering Integrated Technical Support for the Digital Home, Accenture Survey Finds
NEW YORK, December 6, 2011 – Most global communications providers agree it’s time for them to offer multi-device technical support to their customers, especially as consumers rely on laptops, smartphones and tablets interchangeably for business and personal use, a new survey of providers (www.accenture.com/pts-research) by Accenture (NYSE:ACN) shows.
Accenture (www.accenture.com/premium-technology-services) conducted the global survey to learn if service providers are prepared to address the technical support market and if their attitudes coincide with customers’ expectations.
The survey (www.accenture.com/pts-research) revealed that three out of four (75 percent) communications providers said they expect to offer the services over the next two years. At the same time, almost half (49 percent) expressed concern that if they did not provide technical assistance, other companies might encroach on their customer base. Potential rivals for this market include Internet or software companies, cable, satellite and media companies, retailers and other technology companies.
“People use their Internet-connected and mobile devices across their home and work environments, creating an atmosphere of complexity that makes technical support – and who will provide that support -- even more critical,” said Kurt Hogan, executive director, Premium Technology Services (www.accenture.com/premium-technology-services) in Accenture’s Communications practice. “In fact, in a related survey we did earlier this year, more than half the consumers surveyed said they would welcome the opportunity for ‘single company’ technical support, which signals a huge opportunity for someone to claim these digital consumers.”
Providers cite customer relationships among advantages; consumers may not always agree
Globally, providers believe consumers would welcome the opportunity to have one company provide technical support for most or all of their home and office electronics devices (North America – 83 percent; Europe and Latin America – 65 percent; Asia Pacific – 55 percent). And a clear majority of all providers (73 percent) believe their industry is well-positioned to address consumers’ needs for technical help with devices such as mobile phones and smartphones. Eighty-six percent cited their own company’s trusted relationship with customers as a reason it is well positioned to provide such technical support for mobile phones and smartphones.
Among the additional advantages providers believe their customers value are an existing infrastructure connected to their customers’ home, personal, or office devices (58 percent); their reputation for technical competence (56 percent); and, an existing billing relationship that could accommodate additional services (54 percent). More than half (53 percent) believe they have a competitive advantage because they already provide service for mobile phones and smartphones, which can function as a “hub” for other home, personal or office electronics devices.
However, more than half (58 percent) of the smartphone consumers Accenture surveyed earlier this year about remote technical support said they would look to mobile phone or smartphone providers – rather than communications providers – as a likely source of technical support for these devices. By contrast, 80 percent of communications providers said their industry was a good fit to provide mobile phones or smartphones with technical support.
Providers recognize business value in supporting mobile phones and computers
Communications providers generally recognize the business value of being able to diagnose and repair mobile phone or smartphone problems via remote access. Two-thirds (66 percent) believe the service would be most worthwhile if equipment- and non-equipment-related problems could be identified. More than half (59 percent) said the service would be valuable if it were to reduce the number of phones that are not broken but are returned anyway because customers have technical issues.
Computer maintenance is another area where providers recognize business value. More than two-thirds (68 percent) believe that offering computer maintenance service would position the company to offer additional maintenance and integration services for home, personal and office electronics devices.
Comparing the recent, provider-focused survey with the earlier, consumer-focused survey revealed that providers and consumers have different opinions regarding technical service delivery options, such as call centers, emails and other delivery methods. Fifty-one percent of providers believe consumers prefer technical assistance delivered through a contact center; 29 percent of providers surveyed said consumers would prefer in-home technical assistance; and seven percent said they believe customers want support in retail stores where they purchase their devices.
However, consumers in the Accenture survey said they’d welcome delivery of support in a variety of non-traditional ways, including self-directed service with online support (39 percent) or provided by technicians via email or online chat (39 percent). And, one-third (33 percent) expressed interest in having support provided by technicians who could remotely access their computer at night or during some other “down time.”
According to the recent Accenture survey, alignment on the timing and price point of the technical support offer is also important. Forty-five percent of providers believe that consumers would be more likely to purchase routine, preventive computer maintenance after they experience computer problems and were in touch with a technician on a phone, rather than contracting for such service at the time they purchase a device. Consumers surveyed in the earlier Accenture research offered greater support for preventive computer maintenance: 52 percent said they would purchase remote support as a preventive measure to reduce the likelihood of serious computer problems that could put data at risk or cost a lot of money to fix. When asked about consumers’ willingness to pay for some types of routine computer services, providers underestimated their willingness to pay by 25 percent.
Accenture also asked providers if their company had the capability to offer integrated technical support. Fifty-nine percent said that offering remote diagnostic service for mobile phones and smartphones would require capabilities that most communications companies currently do not have in-house. Thirty-nine percent said that integrated technical support for mobile phones or smartphones would be worth offering, but only if the actual service could be outsourced and handled by another company, and 39 percent said it would be worth the investment to establish an in-house capability.
“Providers have clearly established customer relationships and touch points, such as cell centers, retail stores, web sites, and in-home service calls,” Hogan said. “However, they must fully understand customers’ preferences and ensure they’re ready to address them before implementing integrated technical assistance, which can help providers reduce their support costs, improve the customer experience, and increase providers’ sales to digital consumers.”
Accenture conducted the 20-country telephone survey of 59 senior executives at communications companies with annual revenues of at least $US500 million. The report is available at www.accenture.com/pts-research.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 236,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$25.5 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2011. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
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