Customer service and the Internet of Things

Readers say diagnostic tools and IT training for technicians is key to customer satisfaction
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

YARMOUTH, Maine—The Internet of Things phenomenon has left few industries untouched, and security is no exception. While the connected home has opened up a virtually limitless frontier for RMR, it has also spawned new demands for training and customer service that companies would do well to consider if they hope to minimize attrition.

Enter the dreaded counterconcept to the user-friendly, interoperable, smoothly functioning smart home: the Internet of Broken Things. Used in a recent Parks Associates webinar, the term may lack the infectiousness of its opposite, but according to a recent SSN News Poll, it’s no less relevant to the discussion about the connected home.

Though a majority of respondents—46 percent—said customers rarely report problems with devices such as door locks and cameras, 37 percent said problems arise on a daily or weekly basis.

Most respondents (61 percent) said the best way to bolster customer support for more technologically complex smart home devices is to give technicians diagnostic tools along with product and IT training. Nearly 30 percent said IT training and product training would do the trick, while 10 percent recommended only more training on products.

One reader noted that all of the above is needed to provide better customer support, but cautioned that technical intelligence isn’t worth much if it’s not complemented by more timeless customer service traits.

“Genuine soft skills are needed in order to keep the customers from leaving,” the reader said. “In my experience, customers are willing to wait for a solution as long as it is politely handled and expediently resolved.”

Something else borne out by the poll: Readers agree overwhelmingly that the Internet of Things movement is vital to their ability to meet the evolving demands of their customers, with close to 80 percent saying as much.

One reader said impending social shifts, such as the rise in home ownership among Digital natives, could herald the real explosion in the market.

“At this point it looks like everyone is betting on the connected home,” the reader noted. “Connected homes may be in simmer until more of those in Gen X and Y become homeowners.”
A few readers cast doubt on the long-term viability of smart home components that rely on today’s Internet service providers. “This is a mistake considering the down time of many ISPs,” the respondent said. “Now cable companies want to limit broadband usage. The large cable companies will stick it to all us including giants like ADT.”

One reader stressed the importance of exercising care in choosing the composite parts of an interactive services system.

“While one cannot control all possibilities, proper training and careful selection of components can reduce problems and enhance customer service,” the respondent noted.