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Top 10 Worst Mistakes to Avoid When Supporting Smart Home Customers; Part Two

By Special Guest
Lee Gruenfeld, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Support.com
October 19, 2016

Part Two of Three: Disrespecting your Customers

This is part two of a three-part article series. Read the first article here.

4. Shoehorning your customers into live support – Customers have spoken, and what they’re saying is that they don’t always want to speak. It’s one of the reasons chat is experiencing such a rapid rise in popularity. I personally dread calling for help and will do anything to avoid it.


There are a lot of reasons why people don’t like calling in for support. Some have difficulties with accents, some are intimidated, some get irritated by insincere small talk and obviously scripted dialogue, and some just like to do things for themselves. This is especially true in home automation; many of the people who buy smart home devices are avid do-it-yourselfers, or at least consider themselves capable, and calling for support can feel like an admission of defeat. Recent survey findings reveal that 61 percent of smart home owners want to fix issues on their own and become frustrated if they can’t.

This makes it mandatory to give people rich options for getting help without speaking to a live agent. FAQs are nice, but some form of intelligent interactive assistance is much better. Best of all is making self-support available right in the app that controls the connected home system (See point nine in part three). However you do it, though, you’ve got to provide a way to escalate to a live agent if things don’t work out. And that brings us to the next point.

5. Blowing the transfer to a live agent (starting from scratch unnecessarily) – Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’ve spent 40 minutes trying to solve a problem with your connected thermostat or security camera using online FAQs, article searches and interactive troubleshooting bots. Nothing’s worked so you decide to call in, and the first thing you hear from your friendly tech support rep is, “So what’s the problem?” followed by a forced march through everything you’ve already tried and you already know isn’t going to work.

That exasperating little scenario is one of the best known ways to kick off a support call on a deeply negative note. With the right set of tools, you can avoid this situation. So long as the customer is doing self-support within the context of tools you provide, it’s possible to create a “breadcrumb trail” of everything he did and present that log to the live agent at the time of the eventual phone call. This way, the agent’s first (and welcome) words are, “Okay, I see the problem, and I know everything you’ve already tried, so here’s what we’re going to do…”

6. Letting your agents fly blind – You’ve probably had the experience of trying to help a less-than-savvy parent or friend with a technical issue over the phone. “Click on the blue icon. No, not that one, that’s a link to…no, no, the blue icon! The little thing with a circle on it! Okay, good. Wait, you see what now? A thingamajig like an origami Studebaker? Uhhh…”

Not only does it make both of you want to jump out a window, it also swallows up gobs of time. There’s no reason for this, however, because this is the connected world we’re talking about, and that means your agents should be able to connect to their customer’s devices, see for themselves what’s going on, follow along and direct the customer, or just take over and do it themselves. Connected assistance can take the form of screen sharing, app sharing, co-browsing, and remote control.

Another offering from more advanced providers is remote video, which lets customers use the cameras on their smartphones or tablets to show the support agent exactly what they’re looking at, whether it’s a wiring problem, switch settings, or the placement and mounting of various smart home devices.

7. Leaving information on the table (contextual intelligence) – There are times when we in the support world feel a reluctance to utilize things we know about customers for fear of appearing to be intrusive. This is not an irrational concern, but what we’re learning is that customers don’t mind us having and using that information, so long as it benefits them in a substantive way.

We should be bringing every scrap of information at our disposal to bear on resolving customer issues. Not only that, we should be bringing intelligence to the process, integrating various bits of data in ways that make it possible to identify and anticipate problems even before the customer knows they exist. If we see that a customer is manually setting a programmable thermostat half a dozen times a day, the support agent should be alerted to the fact that a little consumer education is warranted. This can lead to a “small moment of delight” that demonstrates value where the consumer didn’t know it existed, making it far more likely that he’s going to keep the device and be inclined to buy more. 

Click here to continue reading the third and final article in this three-part series. 


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