Among self-help support options, consumers are slightly less likely to use self-help applications on their devices than other support resources. This is likely driven by lower availability of the self-help applications compared to other self-help resources. The percentage of consumers who report using self-help applications has remained the same over the past four years, suggesting that availability and/or interest in using these tools has not changed much over the years.
Among professional support resources consumers are least likely to email a device manufacturer or contact an independent support provider. Compared to other resources, email is a less popular means of support, especially for computing devices owners. Consumers are highly dependent on computing devices and prefer instant support. Independent support providers are also less popular because, while device manufacturers may or may not charge a fee for support services, independent providers always do.
Ultimately, the decision to use self-help versus professional support resources will depend on competence and convenience.
- Competence – Consumer familiarity with devices in the market helps to drive perceived competence. Most computing and entertainment devices have been on the market for some time increasing consumer familiarity and the likelihood that they, or their friends and family, can resolve simple problems with the product.
- Convenience – Seeking professional support can be inconvenient regardless of the channel used to receive service. Long wait-times for remote support services such as phone calls; having to unplug and transport devices to an in-store kiosk; and having to arrange for a stranger to provide in-home support services all provide some level of inconvenience. Also driving this inconvenience are the costs often associated with premium professional support.
Generally, returning and replacing devices are the least likely actions after consumers experience a problem. The inconvenience associated with returning or replacing a products helps to make it one of the least likely actions for consumers who have encountered a problem. Consumers are less likely to return computing and entertainment products than they are to return smart home devices. This likely reflects the high dependence on computing devices. Moreover, most computing and entertainment devices incorporate mature technologies, minimizing the likelihood of a product defect, which is the most common reason for returning a product.
Product returns are a threat to the industry growth for the smart home. As the smart home industry attempts to increase market penetration rates, minimizing product returns will be critical. Difficulty setting up devices is a significant driver of product returns. One in five consumers who found the smart home device setup process “very” difficult returned their device. Approximately one-third of consumers who return connected devices spend less than 30 minutes attempting to set up the device prior to returning it. Device manufacturers must, therefore, simplify the product setup process is therefore critical.
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