What Is the Future of Customer Support
How we care for customers in Connected Home is becoming a huge issue that has the potential to delay or discourage homeowners from investing in connected goods and services. In this post we discuss some of the challenges we see and the opportunities to rethink and re-imagine how we provide care....all while improving the customer experience.
Technical Support is Complicated
The first challenge is that the nature of technical support is that it is complicated and often requires some degree of human intervention. This puts the onus on the consumer to dial a call center and then wait until an overworked agent answers.
The agent can then help to interpret the symptoms as best described by the customer. The agent will listen to the customer’s complaint. They will check available diagnostics. They will explain the issue in terms they adjudge the customer to be capable of understanding. Hopefully this process will lead to a resolution to the issue but often it may require a further call to another more technical agent or indeed for an engineer to call to the consumer’s home.There are a number of well-known problems with this approach :
1) The customer has to take time out of their day to call the call center and wait in line until an Agent is free.
2) Technical support calls are typically longer and more intractable than other types of call and may require further intervention.
3) The overall cost of this process is driving a significant operational cost to ISPs and increasingly OEMs.
While far from ideal this has been the industry standard approach for many years. There is however an emerging challenge which I believe represents an existential threat to not only existing support models but to the very business models that are being built on connected products.
The Unintended Consequences
This challenge is that as our home fill up with more products and services that rely on connectivity it is resulting in some unintended consequences.
Connected products rely on one or more of a connected product, a network or an OTT service to perform. This creates complexity and may result in creating a situation where the homeowner finds it difficult to identify the root cause of the problem.
As the customer finds themselves at the ‘hub’ of this problem solving challenge, they may have to engage in multiple independent ‘spokes’ of conversations with a variety of providers to unravel the issue.
This is an unrealistic burden to place on the homeowner and an unsustainable cost to bear for providers. In particular this will be unbearable for OEMs (Product companies) who in particular have not yet achieved recurring revenue models to offset the ongoing cost of care.
Rethinking Support with 'Ambient Care'
Therefore we have to re-think our care model and the associated capabilities that are required to support the digital transformation of care. In Sweepr we believe the future of technical support rests in what we are calling “Ambient Care”.
Ambient Care is derived from the concept of Ambient Computing. This is the concept of interacting with computing power without consciously doing so. The idea being that the accessibility and intuition of the system is such that the customer accesses computing power effortlessly.
Ambient Care is the idea that help should be similarly accessible and intuitive to use. As our homes become more connected we need a way to obscure the inherent complexity, both technical and commercial, that is required to solve increasingly complicated technical support issues that will doubtlessly emerge.