BAFFLED BY TECHNOLOGY

…MEANS REVENUE LOST
More sophistication in the handset means more complexity in the user interface and more demands on the user. And if some initially attractive function is too hard to use, says Jason Choy, the revenue opportunity will be lost.
It’s a familiar story, and one that’s played out in mobile phone outlets on the High Street every day. “So one more time – could you just show me how to do that? I tried, but I couldn’t find the right menu on my phone. I’d really like to send a picture message, but I’m baffled by this menu …”
The irony here is that each increase in phone sophistication brings with it a corresponding step forward in the complexity of the menus and the dreaded user’s manual – and the knowledge required to exploit the device’s full potential.
As features get packed in, more and more revenue opportunities for mobile operators are simply vanishing into thin air. Why? Because although mobile users are keen to try out all the functions of their phone – especially in the days and weeks after getting a new model – most people become bamboozled when they try setting up features such as IM, WiFi or sending pictures via MMS on their mobiles. People finally succumb to complicated menus, configuration problems, or other hair-raising issues, and they simply quit trying. At this point, mobile operators can say goodbye to the incremental revenue.

Making money
Let’s be honest – nobody reads the manual except out of desperation, right? And by that time, there’s a high possibility that you’ve already altered some of the vital settings, in the trial-and-error process that’s taken so long that you’ve now forgotten why you wanted to set up the feature in the first place…
At SNAPin Software, the handset software we’ve developed means there’s no longer any need to read the manual. It recognises when someone is trying to use an advanced phone feature and can guide them through the steps.
This is not rocket science. To a certain extent, the intelligence was already there, just buried deep in the manual. We have simply moved this knowledge to the handset and we deliver it right when people need it.

 
"There’s no longer any need to read the manual …" 
 
The SNAPin philosophy is to put the solution to most mobile consumers’ problems right in their hands, through using the mobile itself. SNAPin’s SelfService software has a simple mission: provide people with better and easier to use experience on the phone that will help and guide them through not only the basic but the more complex aspects of their handsets. For SNAPin, self service doesn’t mean the latest interactive voice response system talking people through an unending series of automated customer service menus, or thousands more customer service representatives around the world.
Also attractive to Orange and other network operators who are trialling our technology, is the further intelligence offered by SNAPin. In many cases, when users try and fail to use the advanced features on their handset, they also manage to mess up the basic settings. Suddenly there’s no chance of downloading the ringtone du jour, the coolest mobile in town has become a fashion disaster, and the customer is bringing the mobile back to the shop or calling customer service looking for a refund.

Reasons to be cheerful
With SNAPin SelfService on board, the vicious circle never starts, thanks to the software’s self-healing mode, which detects and automatically corrects all erroneous settings.
Today, people are buying new phones for a different reason than five years ago – when they were just starting to go mobile. In 2006, people are attracted to upgrade to the latest models hoping to share pictures with friends, download and listen to music downloads, or to watch video. The more features these phones pack, of course it’s going to get harder – but we don’t believe that this pain should be passed on to the customer.
This is good news too for retailers of high-end mobiles – as it will make them easier to sell, and to use. And operators can provide their customers with simple unobtrusive 1-2-3 guides and customer care right on the handset. For the newbie, self-service software can offer contextual help for simple tasks such as sending their first MMS message or looking up their pay monthly balance. For power users, it can work invisibly in the background, solving small problems that can be incredibly frustrating, for example making sure that data transfer protocols are working while roaming. Also, depending on how operators choose to set it up, SNAPin’s SelfService software can offer advice to users, such as suggesting an alternative calling plan more in line with a customer’s mobile usage pattern.
In summary, this is a win-win situation – for users as it removes the frustration, and for the network operators, since SNAPin removes the barriers that are holding people back from making the full use of their phone’s capabilities, at the same time, doing so with far fewer calls to customer service. More MMSing means more revenue. And phone users who are empowered to use the advance features means less churn.

 
Jason Choy is Managing Director, EMEA, for SNAPin Software