Long considered lifestyle products, consumer electronic devices have become essential business tools. And, because they have become essential to business success, a malfunctioning mobile phone or PC can become a career-damaging event. This “must work” requirement has opened up a huge opportunity for companies in the field of technical support, especially for those that can serve as a one-stop shop for multiple devices and brands.
A new Accenture (News - Alert) survey of 3,886 technology consumers in 21 countries shows that 68 percent of technology users would want technical support to reduce the likelihood of serious computer problems that could put data at risk or require costly repairs. Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed indicated that they want increased security from virus and malware attacks that could put data at risk. Sixty-two percent desire improved computer speed for tasks, such as browsing the Internet, and 57 percent indicated that they would like help obtaining the latest software or security patches.
The most interesting finding of the survey was that 63 percent of the “super-users” – people who own and use 14 or more consumer electronics devices – indicated that they would like to have one company provide technical support for most or all of their home and mobile consumer electronics devices, regardless of the specific communications services they use, which range from fixed landline to wireless, broadband, cable and satellite services.
Consumers clearly recognize the value of integrated support to help manage their home and mobile devices, ranging from in-home support, including remote access, to live call center and web support to e-mail. In the near future, this concern will only broaden, especially as people integrate their business hardware into the home network environment and use smartphones much the way they use computers, to browse the web, pay bills and play games.
There are many sectors from which new technology support services could emanate. However, when the smoke clears, service providers will emerge in a top position to take advantage of this opportunity.
A broadband service provider has direct contact with its PC user customers, and a hugely vested interest in improving customers’ experiences. Whether a service provider, OEM, or retailer provides technical support – and all of these are potential candidates to do so – the ultimate goal must be a superior customer experience. Delivering high quality technology support experience to customers must be the key driver.
While service providers are well positioned from the standpoint of direct customer experience, it’s not yet clear where consumers will ultimately turn for support of their digital lifestyles. There are stringent criteria to meet. Users want service that is personalized, designed to address problems that they are most likely to encounter, and simple enough to keep their technology up and running with minimal effort.
There are a several aspects providers should consider if they decide to provide premium technology services to consumers and enterprises alike:
- Adopt a systems integration mindset to address today’s digital ecosystem – Today’s digital ecosystem requires providers to offer a set of changing technology services, compared with providing tech support for a fixed asset.
- Offer specialized technology services for higher value – A technology support solution must be segmented to align with individual customers’ needs and accommodate a broad range of technologies. Therefore, it must be designed to handle the increasing complexity and rapid deployment of applications and hardware.
- Put convenience first – Technology support must be convenient for the end users, performed at times and in a way that avoids negative impact on their daily lives.
- Provide an industrial strength solution – Very high quality and cost effectiveness, relative to users’ investment in their technology, are key elements. Only an extremely reliable solution delivered at the right price points can produce consistent results and adoption at scale.
- Address the complex technology ecosystem – Consumers have high expectations and a plethora of technology, and providers must weigh scope of support expectations heavily to avoid customer dissatisfaction.
Now is the time for service providers to evolve from one-size-fits-all solutions to a more focused approach that utilizes deploy once/fix-everything, software-driven models. There’s an opportunity for service providers to capitalize on today’s digital home trends as a means of pursuing profitable growth if providers are willing to rethink their business models, organizations, processes and systems for helping consumers transform their digital home experience. Only then can providers create an enhanced customer experience to generate revenue, and help increase customer loyalty and satisfaction. That’s a recipe for success by any service provider’s definition.
Kurt Hogan is senior executive of premium technology services at Accenture (www.accenture.com).
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Edited by Rich Steeves