Parks Associates Blog

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

BT Home IT Advisor - a Model for Service Provider Home IT Support Services?

I've been following the BT Home IT Advisor service as a possible model for other broadband service providers to follow for providing their own fee-based technical support services. A key argument that we made in our recently-released report Digital Home Services: Carriers, Retailers, and the Consumer is that service providers should be actively pursuing a dual-edged strategy in thinking about enhancing customer support and efforts aimed at last-mile and in-home network management. There is certainly a strong element of cost savings, as more highly automated and integrated systems can reduce both call volumes and call times. At the same time, consumers are hungry for some entity to act as a trusted resource for technical support services (and they're willing to pay), and why wouldn't the service provider stand as good a chance (if not better) than a Best Buy in supplying these fee-based services? The BT experience may certainly pave the way for more service providers to enter the space, and our initial comments in the report follow:

"Although broadband service providers have not to date taken an active role in directly offering a remote support solution to their customers (relying instead on a third-party vendor), we are intrigued by the recent launch of BT’s (UK) Home IT Call services. The Home IT Call service includes premium telephone support for broadband, networking, and basic PC issues. It has now been augmented with an in-home technical support service (Home IT Visit). Home IT Call has two payment schemes – a £9.99-per-month subscription and a £25 per-case service. We are told that the service is 'flying out the door,' but BT has not revealed any specific subscriber numbers."
Now, BT has actually revealed some information about the take-rate for the service. As of May, BT notes that it has 40,000 customers, and that it is taking customer orders at a rate of 2,000 per week. Further, the company notes that the Advisor service has a 96% satisfaction rate among users.
Another interesting feature that BT is providing is the BT Digital Vault, which gives broadband users an online store for their online movies, music, photos and documents. The company reports that it now has more than 125,000 registered users.

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