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Supporting the Internet of Things: Beyond the Buzzwords

By R. J. Stangle / Feb 12, 2015

If you are in the tech support industry, chances are you’ve attended a conference, webcast or read a whitepaper talking about how the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) will impact (and complicate) customer service delivery.

At AppHelp, we have been supporting the digitized home for years and have solved hundreds of thousands of tech support tickets associated with Smart TVs, IP-based Security systems, Wifi thermostats and other IoT devices.

Here is a little of what we’ve learned from the front lines:

User experience is a crucial component in keeping customer loyalty

When the first Smart TVs started to appear on the market they had painful UIs, inexplicably complicated set up procedures and getting them connected was as easy as setting the time on a VCR (google “VCR Time setting” if you’re under 30 ).

Today’s reality is different though. One of the core requirements for a successful IoT device lies in how simple it is to use. Nest is a great example of this. For a long time, Nest had a video of an 8 year old installing a Nest Thermostat. It was their way of pointing out that perhaps one of the biggest and most complicated household chores (installing and programming a thermostat) could now be done by an 8 year old child. It was one of the keys to their success and incredible growth.

Today, we are seeing breakthroughs in user experience like this in other areas and manufacturers are increasingly building devices that are easy enough to use by everyone in the house – no matter their age or level of technical know-how.

Customers need better onboarding, education and support for their devices

Most of the problems we encounter in our Premium Technical Support sessions for IoT devices, tend to be related to product set up or connecting to the home’s Wifi network. This is where a technical support specialist’s expertise around connectivity, routers and in-house Wifi networks really lends itself to supporting the IoT.

Parks and Associates report stated that more than 10% of US Broadband households plan to purchase an internet connected programmable thermostat within the next 12 months, and that is just thermostats. With the millions of internet connected HDMI sticks like Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire stick, along with the huge wave of other IoT devices that are hitting the market – the support needs around these devices is only going to increase.

Internet providers are key stakeholders in IoT support

The companies that we think are going to bear the brunt of these new technical support challenges will be the companies that are delivering broadband internet to these consumers today. When a devices fails to connect to the internet, the consumers will reach for the easiest path for support they have. And more often than not, that means a call to their broadband providers technical support team. Because of the incredibly low cost of these IoT devices, the manufactures do not have a business model that supports live technical support. This means consumers can open a support ticket with the manufacturer and wait for a reply or they can pick up a phone and talk to a live technical support agent from their broadband supplier.

Riding the IoT wave

To ignore this coming wave of new technology and new technical support challenges would be like a blacksmith dismissing the rise in popularity of the automobile. Being able to deliver basic tutorials, troubleshoot connectivity issues and help people securely set up and configure these devices, will be critical to anyone that is delivering and supporting broadband services to today’s connected homes.

At AppHelp, we have been focused on developing purpose-built tools and solutions to resolve IoT-related technical support problems for consumers and SMBs.

Download our free ebookfree ebook to learn more about how AppHelp is helping Internet Service Providers support the Internet of Things.