It is undeniable that smart technology is now the hub of personal communication, tying together a consumer’s social life, work life, entertainment, finance and other various areas. Reliance on an “always-on” lifestyle has changed consumer behaviour and expectations, offering new opportunities for companies that want to deepen their relationship with the hyper-connected consumer. Yet, despite all this incredible integration, connected devices as a category have still been struggling to gain traction.

With the introduction of 5G, companies will have more connectivity, more options, and more speed with which to engage their loyal customer base. However, such improvements will be for nothing if consumers continue to be frustrated or disappointed with connected devices. It will be up to companies that provide connected products to make smart technology easier to connect, simpler to use and offer better support services for when things become difficult.

Frustrations We Need to Solve: Starting with Basic Connectivity

It seems counter-intuitive, but as connectivity has increased, consumer enthusiasm around connected devices has decreased. Some of this may be traced back to the frustrations of early users and unclear benefits for a product that came with a premium price tag.

Tech UK* found almost one in three connected devices are not connected to home Wi-Fi but were still in use. This is mainly down to having to pay associated subscription costs and concerns around data security. Not connecting products to Wi-Fi, therefore preventing technology from being truly “smart,” triggers a cascade of consequences for technology companies, including:

1.     The company loses the ability to engage the consumer
2.     The consumer doesn’t benefit from the premium services provided by the product
3.     The consumer either remains or becomes frustrated
4.     Re-purchase intent drops

Assurant’s Connected Decade research shows that in general consumers thought they understood the benefit of the connected device they bought, recognised its value, and yet still did not use its premium features. The break in the chain may be support services. Connected devices are still being developed, inconsistent, and can be difficult to install. The poor adoption may indicate that consumers need more guidance and support in different ways/multiple ways.

Connected products that seamlessly integrate with a mobile device, rather than just connecting to Wi-Fi, will be able to enter the consumer’s lifestyle considerably faster than any other solution, as the mobile device is the consumer’s preferred platform. Entering this complicated ecosystem, however, can also create unexpected frustrations for consumers who want a one-touch solution. When a consumer experiences technical and connectivity issues, it becomes more difficult to unravel the culprit, making technical support critical.

Despite these frustrations, there is a willingness among consumers to try connected devices. Our research has shown a surprising number of connected devices in each consumers’ lives. Even the most technology-resistant consumer owns a connected device.

Consumers Need Multi-Device Tech Support Designed for Interconnectivity

Each consumer develops a unique connected ecosystem that requires multi-faceted technical support across the entire network. Historically, tech support was able to operate in a one-to-one environment, focusing on the product/issue at-hand. Connected products, however, live in an ecosystem that is constantly evolving through innovation and technology upgrades. When a consumer experiences technical or connectivity problems that they or their friends can’t resolve, they turn to the manufacturer. In the past year, nearly half (44%) of British consumers sought help over the phone and about 40% via internet chat.

Though consumers rank about 50% of interactions with the manufacturer as positive, there’s a strong disconnect between available technical support and customer satisfaction. It is becoming critical that brands offer holistic technical support that understands not just their device, but all the devices in the ecosystem, including the mobile device. The best technical support will be able to accomplish two, very specific goals:

1.     Quickly and effectively resolve the issue at-hand.
2.     Educate the consumer on how to maximise their experience.

Connecting the Entire Connected Ecosystem

Tech support is quickly becoming the lifeline of connected devices. While it’s important to continue helping consumers set up their devices and troubleshoot their products, it’s becoming more important to raise the consumers’ awareness on the benefits of their product and how it enhances the full ecosystem. This is only possible through a new kind of technical support strategy. One that focuses on satisfaction rather than just resolution.

Building brand loyalty through post-sale satisfaction is critical to expanding a consumer’s connected ecosystem. Within our research, even among the weakest category, repurchase intent is close to 50% for a connected product. Companies that want to build loyalty and win repurchase will need to offer support for all the devices in the ecosystem, proactively enabling interconnectivity and helping the consumer get the greatest satisfaction across their network.

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*According to Tech UK’s The State of Connected Home, 2019 Report. Available here