Over the past 10 years, the technology landscape in US homes has evolved significantly. The proliferation of connected consumer devices inside the home means old customer support models need to be reconsidered. Both the tools and the types of support needed have changed.
Here are the top five support-related factors impacting the consumer and driving that change.
1. The “need-to-know” prior to purchase
Consumers want to know about device features, utility, privacy policies and data safety before they decide to purchase a connected device. Inexperience with new products, lack of clarity about features, and uncertainty about operability act as deterrents to purchase. In addition, the lack of industry standards contributes to the uncertainty about whether a new product will connect to—or work with—existing products in the home. This confusion extends to feature comparisons and product interoperability. Consumers also have data privacy and safety & security concerns.
2. Set-up uncertainty
Many smart home device buyers experience difficulties setting up their device. While most consumers (87%) say they’re comfortable setting up traditional connected devices, fewer smart home device owners (63%) report being able to do so on their own. And a significant percentage (31%) report difficulties and needing support. Extensive set-up processes involving Wi Fi communications protocols, technology fragmentation in the industry, and fragile technologies used in the set-up process are top considerations for support needs by consumers.
3. Loss of wireless connectivity
Losing wireless connectivity during the installation and use of a product is a key technical issue faced by smart home device owners. Unreliable device connections present a major threat to the experience consumers have with emerging connected devices. This is particularly problematic for devices with highly sensitive use cases like connected health devices.
4. Lack of seamless device-to-device interaction
Seamless device-to-device interaction is out of reach for many products, and it’s a growing problem for smart home device owners. As users accumulate connected devices, they want these devices to seamlessly interact with each other. Such interaction can significantly increase the level of convenience, enabling activity on one device to trigger activity on another. However, the current lack of established standards in device communication protocols makes this seamless interoperability currently all but impossible.
5. Poor product performance and support experiences
Owners of smart home products report encountering poorer product performance and support experiences with those devices than with their computing devices. And a higher percentage of smart home device owners have reported experiencing problems with their devices in 2020 than in 2018. Features and capabilities based on technologies that have yet to fully mature could lead to false alerts of poor performance, or the failure of devices to respond as expected. Also, given the complexity of the devices and their uses, it is often quite difficult for owners to identity whether there is an actual problem with a device, let alone diagnose its cause.
These customer experience issues raise the risk of connected-device providers losing sales from consumers who are not convinced to purchase the device. Poor end-to-end experiences, whether during installation or use, can result in product returns, as well as negatively impact brand value and increased support costs for these companies. Providers, therefore, need intelligent strategies to support these connected consumers, while reducing cost.
At Sutherland, we help product and service providers reimagine end-to-end customer experience—from pre-purchase to sales, setup, support and renewal. We help you improve revenue and customer satisfaction scores, retention, reduce cost-of-service and improve profitability.
To learn more, read the full Supporting Todays Connected Consumer paper, developed for Sutherland by Parks Associates. Contact one of our experts today.