“Hey Google, dim the lights to 15%, and play The Notebook from Netflix on my living room TV.”
Google Home places your entire house under the control of your voice. In this blog we will explore in detail the setup and first use of Google’s smart speaker offering. First and foremost, its understanding of voice commands is nearly perfect. It reacts quickly and provides “just the right amount” of information when it answers questions. Sometimes it requires users to phrase their question in a very specific way, but, like every interaction with technology, it’s only a matter of forming a habit. Only a few small issues get in the way of the device’s flawless execution. However, users will be surprised to discover that Google’s support for those issues is not nearly as innovative as the Smart Home experience itself.
As stated by PWC, the value of Google Home’s voice interactions is pure convenience. Because of that, the Smart Home experience still has a hard time justifying its premium price to a mass audience. But early adopters, for whom price does not usually play a big factor, do expect this convenience to always work hassle-free. This is where the biggest challenge of both Google Home and all Smart Home devices comes from. The experience is nearly perfect, but not without the occasional stumble. Whether it’s a problem with initial setup or an in-life issue, the support needs to step up to the same level of innovation as the smart speaker itself. If it does not, it risks that end users think twice before re-purchasing a smart home product.
So, what is the customer experience when they unbox their Google Home?
Flawless setup process
The user experience when initially turning on and connecting the Google Home smart speaker is absolutely seamless. The steps involved are simple and easy to follow – from installing the mobile app, to connecting it to the speaker, to setting up Wi-Fi and then linking it to all other devices in your home.
Where the Google Home really shines is the way in which it educates users during this process. Instead of containing a large paper manual to read from, all instructions are presented to the user on the screen of the mobile app during the setup process. And what’s best, only relevant instructions are shown at any time. This results in a very low customer effort required to begin using the device and benefit from its features.
This experience continues throughout the usage of the device. Information about search and result history, devices connected and the commands sent to them is all perfectly visible and understandable.
Customer support seems to be an afterthought
However, the moment an issue is encountered, the experience in dealing with it falls short of the high expectations the device sets. If the home network fails, Google Home is unable to display that information to the user, and since the device cannot function without an internet connection, it is unable to help the user in resolving the network problem.
Google Home support. Photo credit: Google
In addition, diagnosing issues and learning about possible solutions is done in the least innovative way possible. What Google offers is a vast knowledge base of support articles and a community forum for helpful users to try and solve each other’s issues. Considering the experience of using the smart home speaker and how innovative and futuristic it feels, encountering these support models is a step back.
It’s fair to assume that Google will continue to innovate in the smart home space, and the Google Home speaker will continue to improve. The setup process is already a perfect example of creating a seamless customer journey. While onboarding users, Google does a fantastic job of explaining the value of its features, and ties in the consumer with its services even further. However, online support seems almost like an afterthought, a piece of the journey that only gets attention after the damage is done.