Study reveals in-person service essential in creating smart homes
Study reveals in-person service essential in creating smart homes

Study reveals in-person service essential in creating smart homes

Business support systems specialist CSG International has published the results of its latest market survey, showing that consumers want customer service when it comes to connecting up their smart homes.

CSG’s survey, entitled The Future of the Digital Experience: Connected Service Edition, asked 2,000 consumers in five countries about their preferences when connecting home automation and smart devices.

Consumers from the US, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and Malaysia were polled in the study, with most of them using cable, satellite television and paid television services regularly.

Conducted through an (unnamed) independent research firm, the results paint an interesting picture of the future of connected homes. In particular, the study finds that consumers expect in-person support from technicians, as well as online.

Read more: Survey: UK consumers wary of smart home products

The human touch

Overall, consumers seem to be more comfortable dealing with specialists who understand how these technologies work and how they can get the most out of them, than they do on relying on their own resources. 

Almost half (49 percent) of respondents said they’re likely to connect home and security monitoring devices within the next three years, with home automation devices following closely behind, cited by 48 percent.

The participants revealed that they expect help with both simple and complex connections. More than two-thirds (67 percent) said they’re not confident enough to install complex solutions on their own.

Meanwhile, only 44 percent said they are somewhat confident about completing simple, single-device installations, and 84 percent would seek support from a technical resource when connecting between two and five devices.

Connected technology companies should have good software and a reputation for good service if they’re to attract the attention of consumers, and personal interaction will continue to be an important factor.

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Putting customers first

As far as customer support is concerned, 74 percent of consumers prefer to speak to technicians over phone calls, and 58 percent said customer reputation is an important factor when choosing a technical provider.

Consumers also place a heavy emphasis on the availability of Pay TV field technicians – 89 percent of respondents said they’d choose a Pay TV service if the company also provided smart home connection support.

“Survey respondents have predicted that professional, technical resources will play a significant role in bridging the gap between consumers and the world of devices around us,” said Chad Dunavant, vice president of product management at CSG International.

“CSG’s Workforce Express enables a mobile workforce of 65,000 of the Pay TV industry’s field technicians who are already receiving service requests for smart devices such as TVs, phones and home security. There is a clear opportunity for Pay TV providers to evolve the skills of their field service technicians to capitalise on the growing consumer-based IoT market,” he added. 

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Transformative tech

Dr Kevin Curran, senior member of the IEEE and professor of computer science at the University of Ulster, maintains that IoT will transform the way consumers interact with the world around them.

“The Internet of Things [IoT] will offer the ability for consumers to interact with nearly every appliance and device they own. For example, a refrigerator could let the consumer know when the milk is low or a dishwasher can inform it’s owner when it is ready to be emptied,” he said.

“It is entirely possible that consumers will be getting more text messages from their devices than human beings in the near future. We are seeing elements of the IoT in the marketplace already, with home automation having a strong consumer pull, from controlling the lights and temperature to closing the garage door while away from the home.”