Talking us through TMTI

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As Talk Me Through It (TMTI) founder and managing director Crispin Thomas outlines what’s on the cards for the technical support specialist for the coming year, he ponders: “When will I have time to ski?”

The biggest task, on top of international expansion of the business and further development of its patented Simulex device simulator software (to cover categories beyond mobile phones), is getting networks and retailers on board to use TMTI as their own customer services department.

This, Thomas says, is a way for networks to combat rising churn and falling ARPU, and for non-specialist retailers moving into mobile to compensate for the lack of a completely assisted sale.

Figuring out when Thomas will be able to clear his schedule to hit the slopes could be tricky, considering there are so many facets to TMTI, from its call centres to product testing and software development, all housed in ‘the big blue building’ and ‘big red building’ in Somerset.

Gadget guidance

The core business is its Gadget Helpline and VIP Club, where subscribers are talked through the complexities of their new gadget, be it a mobile or otherwise, for £1.99 a month.

Bringing the call count up to 50,000 a month are the ones generated by its card scheme, whereby a TMTI voucher is included in the box of a device, allowing customers 10 minutes of TMTI talk time, worth one pound paid for by the network or retailer.

Card scheme arrangements are currently in place with the likes of Woolworths and Carphone Warehouse.

Thomas is in discussion with a UK network to offer the Gadget Helpline proposition exclusively as part of its tariffs. He says such a move would save networks money because customers would contact Gadget Helpline instead of the network’s own call centre.

TMTI staff, Thomas says, are often better placed to deal with customer inquiries than the networks’ own teams, and outsourcing to TMTI would make better commercial sense for them.

“The networks have improved their customer services, but they are such big organisations that they are never going to be as good as the SAS team that TMTI provides,” he argues.

“Longer term customer services are going to get too expensive for networks to afford, because we are seeing a governmental crush on call profits.”

Thomas goes so far as to say the increased uptake of VoIP services, such as Skype, which offer free calls, will also jeopardise network revenues: “In 10 years time it will be a big problem for the networks and will reduce profits unless they start offering this technology themselves. If I was a network, I would be taking the lead on this because the increasing popularity of VoIP is going to make running customer services even more expensive.”

Another way TMTI can increase a business’ profits, either network or retailer, is through its ability to reduce return rates of supposedly faulty devices. Its successful troubleshooting service, through Gadget Helpline, VIP Club subscription and in-box TMTI voucher, is described as “the returns doctor”.

“One in five people will bring back a phone after buying it thinking it’s faulty, when it’s not,” says Thomas. “Only five per cent of phones are genuinely faulty, but the public perception is 20 per cent are, because of what we call ‘finger problems’ and that’s where TMTI can score. We can halve return rates. The returns business is huge, and the results are instant.”

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