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Why the ‘Support Experience’ is Critical to IoT User Experience

By R. J. Stangle / Sep 16, 2015

The quality of support an IoT device owner receives when technical issues arise is arguably as important as the User Experience (UX) when the device is running as it should.

We all know that great UX is a cornerstone of creating amazing products that people buy, love and recommend. UX design done right delivers optimal experiences at every touch-point–from marketing, to sale, to device setup, to use.  But even the most thoughtfully crafted UX falls short if getting support for a product or service– doesn’t match the experience when things run smooth.

The objective should be to provide effective and seamless user experiences–especially when things go wrong and technical support is required.  The overall experience of using a product that doesn’t work as intended is what we call the ‘Support Experience’ or ‘SX’ here at AppHelp.

Ignoring the SX Will Impact the UX

Our Technical Support Services (TSS) agents at AppHelp have encountered their fair share of broken devices and hairy technical issues over the last decade. The first peripherals like printers and scanners, had neither great User Interfaces (UI) nor diagnostic abilities accessible from the device or PC. This increased the time required to troubleshoot problems and resulted in a generally dismal SX.

As technology evolved, diagnostic abilities and UIs gradually improved. However, the lessons learned from these early products serve as potent reminders to consider the SX before racing to send your products to market.

Building the SX from the Start

The SX isn’t something device makers should think about after they’ve handed off their product to the Operations team. Instead, developers should begin thinking about the SX as they’re designing the UX.

The SX should help shape the features and technologies of the product in the same way that the optimal UX does. As waves of IoT devices wash into the connected home, offering an effective SX becomes increasingly important.

These connected devices are intended to simplify our lives, but as we add more devices and services (which rarely share common standards), they become more difficult for users to manage. And, with limited troubleshooting capabilities, a user’s path to support can be complicated, making the user’s overall experience with the product feel broken.

For device makers, this heightens the risk of slowed adoption rates and increased cost of goods sold (COGS).

(I encourage you to read O’Reilly’s blog How is UX for IoT different  for more on the subject) 

Enabling a Superior SX

Deploying technology solutions, engaging with third-party specialists, and using big data and analytics to understand user behaviours are all ways to achieve a superior SX. In fact, by just thinking about the SX while designing the UX, you are already a step ahead of most Product Managers.

Other ways we envision the future of IoT support include:

  • Onboarding and installation services to ensure multi-device synchronization and security
  • Remote technical support services built-in to IoT devices that enable technicians to see, evaluate and resolve issues (ex. video, mobile chat)
  • Leveraging third party support specialists with existing experience supporting the PCs, routers and other devices that your IoT device will interact with

If UX encompasses all aspects of an end-user’s interaction with your brand, service, and product, SX is what you decide to do when a user gives you an opportunity to help.

Helping users be successful with their technology in the era of the IoT is more critical than ever – especially with the increasingly important role these products play in consumers’ lives.