Why Consumer Demand for Connected Home Products is on the Decline And What We Can Do About It


Why Consumer Demand for Connected Home Products is on the Decline And What We Can Do About It

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  October 26, 2015

Amazon’s Dash Button, Domino’s emoji pizza ordering, and the widely lauded Nest home thermostat have the potential of making life easier for us. But some of the connected things in our homes seem to be having the opposite effect.

“Explosive growth in devices and interconnectedness is making everything more complicated to install, use, and repair,” according to the white paper “New Rules for a New World: Five Support Imperatives That Can Save the Internet of Things”

by Chris Koverman, vice president of engineering and operations, and Lee Gruenfeld, vice president of strategic initiatives, of Support.com Inc.

When connectivity enters the equation, the authors note, customers are uncertain whether any problems they might experience with a solution are at the device level, related to their in-home connectivity, the wide area network outside their homes, or something else entirely. And that can lead to customer frustration, higher support costs, and even customer abandonment of the specific solution or the solution provider.

A third of customers experience technical problems with connected solutions, 83 percent of first-time Internet of Things users experience problems, 21 percent of consumers believe such solutions are too complicated to use, and 19 percent of those polled have had troubles setting up connected devices in their homes, according to Support.com. As a result, the company goes on to note, many connected devices are returned by customers, even though there’s no problem with the devices’ functionality – just their ease of use. And that can be a problem for the solution provider both immediately, in terms of the lost sale due to the return, and in the future, as customers experiencing problems are four times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related rather than related to the price or the product, according to the white paper.

In fact, consumer demand for connected home products has fallen 15 percent in the past year due to challenges in connecting and using them, and the bulk of consumer electronics returned for refunds are in perfect working order, but may have been returned simply because they are difficult to use. As one attendee of the recent IoT Evolution Expo commented: I wanted a TV, not a hobby, so I returned it.

To address all of the above, Support.com suggests companies offering connected home solutions:

• provide support through the customer’s entire experience of the product;

• design the product with support in mind;

• make support a natural part of the process, not a separate experience;

• offer contextual guided assistance to both support personnel and end users; and

• gather data aggressively and optimize continually.

Automating home solutions is also important, suggested Anatoli Levine, director of product management at Spirent Communications (News - Alert). Gruenfeld didn’t disagree, but he did note that challenges of automation. NEST can sense when you walk into the room and adjust to your preferred temperature, he said, but what happens if two people or more walk into the room?

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere
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