Smart home devices boost tech support needs

April 4, 2018
According to Parks Associates, problems with computing and entertainment devices are declining steadily year-over-year, dropping by more ...

According to Parks Associates, problems with computing and entertainment devices are declining steadily year-over-year, dropping by more than 50% since 2014. However, smart home devices are creating more problems in households. Thirty-four percent of smart home device owners experienced problems with their devices in 2017, up from 28% in 2016. Purchase intentions for most smart home devices in the next 12 months are 20-25% among U.S. broadband households, so tech support companies and service providers are starting to invest more support resources focusing on solutions for those products, such as in-home consultation services.

"Problems with computing and entertainment devices have declined due to mature technologies that improve device reliability and performance, including self-healing technologies, product updates, and intuitive user interfaces," said Patrice Samuels, Parks' senior analyst. "For smart home products, this market is moving toward the early majority, who are typically less tech savvy than the early adopters, resulting in a higher demand for support."

The research house says 44% of technical problems with computing and entertainment devices are ultimately resolved by a professional technician, while 35% of smart home problems are resolved by professional support. The latter finding represents a decline in the number of smart home product owners who resolve their tech problems on their own, which is driving the emergence of support services from companies such as Amazon and HelloTech that charge a one-time fee per incident.

"Several forces help shape whether consumers pay for technical support services," Samuels said. "On one hand, high competition is driving brands to use support as a competitive differentiator, and many are willing to provide a defined level of support, at no cost, to attain customer loyalty. At the same time, as consumers become more familiar with their devices, they seek support for more complex tasks."

Other findings indicate:

  • The average number of connected computing and entertainment devices in broadband households increased from 4.1 in 2010 to 8.3 in 2017.
  • 39% of consumers who intend to purchase a smart home device found a service that helps them set up and configure new devices highly appealing in 2017, compared to 28% in 2016.

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