It’s 4.30PM on Saturday. As you get comfortable on the couch and start a movie on the TV, your smart thermostat seamlessly adjusts the temperature in the room.

An alert on your iPhone comes in. The SmartHome app warns you that right in the middle of a wash cycle, your brand-new washer has stopped working.

The washer is offline. The touchscreen is blank. The app doesn’t respond. Then you hear your daughter asking, “Have you seen my favorite jeans?!”

Who are you going to call for support?

Miele, Google, Apple, your internet provider? Is it the machine? Or perhaps it’s the Smart Hub? Your smartphone? The internet connection?

More connected devices, more complexity

The point of this story is that connected devices don’t operate in a vacuum. They are part of a larger, interconnected system that consists of many different technologies, created by different manufacturers and serviced through various support channels.

Hence, regardless of who receives the support call about the washer, they will stand a better chance of resolving it if they see the washer as part of the SmartHome, not in isolation.

This also means that the experience your customers have with an IoT product is not solely influenced by the performance of the product. It is impacted by the Wi-Fi network, by the connection with the Smart Hub, by the communication with other connected devices and by numerous other factors.

According to Gartner, by 2020 the IoT market will grow to 26 billion connected devices, excluding PCs, tablets and smartphones. As the number of installed units in the household grows, more devices will strive to work together in order to handle increasingly complex tasks. However, this also means that the complexity of resolving issues and troubleshooting IoT devices will increase significantly.

Smart devices require equally smart support

Connected devices promise to make customers’ lives easier in many ways. This sets the expectations high for the entire customer experience with those products. Customers expect a lower level of effort during the set-up, the day-to-day use and the support of the device. Any other outcome is undesirable.

According to a study by Parks Associates, only 33% of users who encountered set-up problems would purchase a similar product from the same brand. That is why focusing on providing a superior support experience is not merely a potent customer service initiative, but a survival strategy in this highly competitive marketplace.

Holding the end-user’s hand remains necessary, as the majority of IoT devices and services are still in their early stages of consumerization. According to Relate by Zendesk, strong support capabilities will be an enabling force in truly bringing the “Smart” experiences to a mass audience.

The time to start improving the customer experience is now

According to Intel, the number of connected devices in the household will rise from 10 in 2016 to over 50 in 2020. For a market still in its early stages of development, there is a greenfield opportunity to get the customer service journey right from the start. However, it’s possible to get things entirely wrong if you don’t manage to meet the high expectations of tech-savvy early adopters.

This is why it is important for any provider of an IoT offer to prioritize the customer support experience early on. Qelp is an expert in interactive self-service support for IoT devices.