More than 1 in 3 U.S. adults has experienced issues either setting up or operating a connected device. According to new data from Customer and Product Experience 360, the average consumer has spent 2.5 hours between self-help and customer support to resolve a smart home issue.
What's more, customers end up having to speak with three different associates before resolving a connected home issue. As a result, 22% end up giving up altogether and returning the product for a refund.
While the internet of things was created to simplify tasks, that may not always be the case. According to the survey, it usually takes consumers more than eight steps to resolve a technical problem with a smart device. On average, that means consumers take almost 1.5 hours to solve these issues, including one hour on the phone with customer service.
In total, throughout the customer journey of a connected home product, CPX 360 reports consumers have worked with 2.1 companies, more than 2.7 sessions and with 3.1 people as the attempted to install and engage with the technology. Respondents found dealing with multiple companies and associates to be frustrating.
"Adoption of connected devices is on the verge of transitioning from early adopters to the mainstream as popularity and integration of IoT expands and homes become smarter,” said Autumn Braswell, COO, LinQ Integrated Solutions at iQor. “It is crucial that organizations streamline and improve the support process now to reduce the number of steps, people and brands required to unlock the intended value of the connected device and ensure that the customer service challenges are addressed before mass adoption.”
And the study shows that consumers avoid customer support as long as possible. About 59% first go to the instructions manual and 14% ask a friend or family for help. Other typical steps that consumers take to problem solve include visiting manufacturer's website, searching on Google, exploring other websites, and returning for repair or replacement.
So what can retailers and manufacturers do to cut down on this consumer frustration?
As research shows that most consumers run into issues during set up or configuration of connected devices, therefore, retailers and manufacturers need to address these frustrations before adoption becomes mainstream, according to Braswell.
"Focusing on improving proactive support is key to eliminating the issues that are happening within setup and deployment," Braswell told FierceRetail. "To improve the customer experience, brands need to learn what support platforms their consumers align with. For example, the most convenient and effective method of issue resolution is YouTube, indicating that brands should offer self-help videos to cut down consumer frustration during the critical configuration process.”
In addition, iQor reports that 15% to 30% of returned products have nothing wrong with them beyond a frustrated or confused consumer.
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But as Braswell points out, the Amazon Effect has changed the face of the customer experience, putting retail past the point of no return on consumer-friendly return policies.
"Because the connected device market is only forecasted to grow, and expand beyond the early adopters utilizing it now, retailers need to get in front of this issue by proactively helping customers navigate the setup and connection issues that are frustrating early adopters before the connected home goes mainstream," she said. "A more streamlined, less frustrating experience will undoubtedly lead to fewer returns, driven by device manufacturers and OEMs adopting intelligent, data-driven product support and customer interaction practices.”
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Although all research points toward a massive growth in the connected growth sector, there is yet to be a clear winner in the IoT space—market share is still up for grabs.
"We believe whoever can help consumers fully realize the potential of the connected home reality—and connect multiple devices for maximum impact and efficiency—may be the winner five years from now," Braswell said. "At this point, that could be a retailer, a telecom provider, a manufacturer or even a utility company. The opportunity is there to be seized and delivering outstanding service and support may be the secret weapon.”