smartphone researchIt seems only natural that smartphone users looking for a fix to a problem go online to find one…and that is actually the case, according to new mobile market research from WDS, which calls itself a wireless-focused provider of “specialist managed services dedicated to improving the user experience.” Unfortunately, 75% of those who choose that option fail to find a solution to their problem, according to WDS, which surveyed more than 1,000 mobile users.

Email set-up, importing contacts, Internet connectivity, app downloads and camera usage were the top five problems cited by respondents to the WDS survey. More than one-third (34%) looked to search engine results to find solutions to their smartphone problems rather than going direct and accessing their carrier or device manufacturer’s website, despite the fact that problem resolution rates tended to be higher when the carrier or device manufacturer’s site were consulted, WDS found.

Those who used search engine links most often found themselves on third-party forums or support resources where the help content wasn’t necessarily accurate or relevant to their particular device, according to WDS. After failing to find a solution and not wanting to spend more time searching for one, 22% said they would give up rather than calling their carrier for assistance.

“This is a worrying trend for mobile carriers,” commented Tim Deluca-Smith, WDS vice president of marketing. “Having invested heavily in their own online help pages there’s an assumption that users are able to quickly search and navigate to the right piece of help content.

“This study shows that this is simply not the case. In the majority of the cases, the consumer simply follows search engine recommendations which three times out of four do not lead to a resolution. The point is that in many cases the carrier has little to no control over the experience and the quality of the outcome.”

The survey results also lead to the conclusion that the volume of problems reported by carriers is being underestimated.

“Often it’s consumers who are new to smartphones that are looking for this type of support,” Deluca-Smith added.”If they fail to set-up email or download an app for example, then there’s the risk that they’ll just fall-back to more familiar non-smartphone services and limit their usage to basic voice and SMS. In this instance, that expensive smartphone that has been heavily subsidized by the carrier isn’t doing its job in building loyalty and driving use of more value-added services.”

Consumers aren’t the only ones with wireless problems, but they may be unique in avoiding contacting the carrier for a resolution. A recent report from J.D. Power & Associates found that small- and medium-sized business customers are increasingly reporting problems and asking questions of telecom carriers regarding wireless quality.

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