Which Operating Systems for Smartphones are Generating Higher Service Costs?

The explosion of smartphones has revolutionised the wireless world in recent years, serving as an additional revenue stream for telecom companies, while offering consumers dramatically advanced user experiences and convenience. Smartphone data plans increase monthly service bills by $10-$20 per customer, improving the bottom line for wireless companies by billions annually. However, technological advances like these often mean an increased demand for customer support and service for consumer adoption and maintenance.

Data from 250 million wireless customers in the U.S. shows that smartphone customers using specific operating systems are costing providers more to service. In our recently released CEAi Industry Brief, we found that Apple’s iOS operating system had the lowest cost-to-serve, with BlackBerry coming in second and Android third. In fact, in a normalized comparison we found that across the four major U.S. wireless providers, it costs an additional $56 million annually to serve BlackBerry users and $93 million more annually for Android users when compared to Apple. And that’s just based on the increase in requests for live agent transfers!

When we looked at repeat call and transfer rates, we found the same scenario. In the top range were Android users, followed by BlackBerry and finally Apple. In fact, Android and BlackBerry users were five per cent more likely to call back or be transferred more than once during a 24 hour period after their initial contact.

Some of the discussions around these figures have pointed out that Apple incurs some of the cost through their own call centres and stores, where customers meet with experts at the Genius Bar to resolve their issues. And while this impacts the carriers’ service cost for repeat calls and transfers, it’s more of a brand identity issue. Android users are not going to call Google for help when they can’t connect to their Gmail account and BlackBerry users won’t call RIM to find out why their email hasn’t been synching for the past three days. These users will call their wireless providers.

So what can carriers do to reduce these costs? They can start by doing a better job of educating their customers before they let them walk out of the store. They can provide better online support and tutorials to make sure most of the easier issues can be resolved by self-service channels. And they can put some of the pressure back on the operating system developers to deliver a better product that generates less support requests. With more than 100 million smartphones sold globally in the second quarter of 2011, the cost of servicing these customers is only increasing.

To find out more, check out our “Does It Pay To Be Smart?” infographic or download the CEAi Industry Brief.