TURNING DISRUPTIVE FORCES INTO OPPORTUNITY
The world of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) focused on home appliances is changing rapidly. There are a number of simultaneous disruptive forces at work :
- An emerging threat of lower cost manufacturing from Asia.
- An inexorable shift in distribution from traditional high-street retail to online.
- A desire to shift to ‘servitization’ models to compete for the consumable revenues.
- Last but not least there is the huge move to ‘Connected Devices’.
All of these factors point to considerable turbulence ahead but none of these factors should be considered as necessarily threatening but rather a huge opportunity to redefine business models and establish new relationships with customers.
THE CURRENT WORKFLOW
A massive part of this story will be a shift to a more ‘Direct to Consumer’ sales and support model. Traditionally the retail distribution channel has been a buffer in this regard but as online encroaches and OEMs innovate new services and software based functionality it will be imperative to have a direct relationship with each customer.
So now we face a scenario where the millions of home appliances will quickly move to becoming ‘connected’ and there will be an increasingly direct support relationship.
If we consider another industry like Communication Service Providers (CSPs) that have lead the way in supporting and maintaining connected devices for decades we will note that the cost of supporting these connected devices is now considerable. Technical Support calls can cost as much as $50 to resolve and that can jump to $150 if a house call is required.
This has been driven mostly by a support model that is heavily dependent on human call centre operatives. Having this sort of dependency on call centres for technical support is largely down to the fact that different people will describe the same problems in different ways and they need different guidance based on their varying ability to follow technical instruction. This interaction complexity has traditionally been addressed by having a human support agent involved to guide the customer through the issue and the resolution.
"Paired with this rich understanding of context, we are designing a better approach to preparing and maintaining technical support content..."
A NEW TECHICAL SUPPORT APPROACH
As OEMs start to consider how technical support will be addressed in their new connected world, we in Sweepr are working on a new approach that will remove that dependency on a human operative in most cases. We are building ‘context’ to help to better understand the problem even when the householder themselves is unsure how to describe the problem.
Paired with this rich understanding of context, we are designing a better approach to preparing and maintaining technical support content to ensure it is structured and curated to adapt for different situations based on the person or the channel they are seeking help over.
If we are successful then we will be able to avoid a scenario where OEMs have to mimic the support cost profile that the CSPs were forced to build over the last few decades, and we can play a part in accelerating consumer uptake of connected devices and services in the home by providing delightfully simple care even as the complexity increases significantly.
Alan Coleman – CEO
13 9 2018