Is Complicated Handset Setup Costing Wireless Carriers?

Survey: 95% of Consumers Would Be More Apt to Try New Services If It Was Easier

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Wireless carriers may be losing out on revenue because consumers are wary of new handsets, fearing the setup will be too confusing and cumbersome.

In an online survey conducted among 4,000 U.S. and U.K. consumers by Coleman Parkes for mobile-device-management specialist Mformation, 95% of respondents said they would be more likely to try new mobile-phone services if the setup was easier. The complexities of migrating to a new phone are preventing 45% of people from upgrading to more-sophisticated phones; 61% said phone setup is as frustrating as changing a bank account. It's been a concern for Sprint, which has beefed up its customer service by installing more help at the store level. The No. 3 U.S. carrier recently said it was closing some call centers as on-the-ground reps do more hand-holding, educating subscribers about how to work with their new phones.

'More time to educate'
"It's not simple, but carriers can, at the point of sale, spend a little bit more time to educate the consumer on what the phone can do," said Neil Strother, a Forrester analyst. But there are challenges in doing that, including high overhead.

Craig Mathias of the Farpoint Group said carriers ought to push handset makers to make greater investments on the software side of the handsets to create more-intuitive user interfaces. "Nobody wants to read the manual; these devices have to be self-describing to the user," he said.

The survey comprised 4,000 respondents in both the U.S. and the U.K., and included only those who used more than just the voice capabilities on their phones.

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