For years, electronics retailers have been providing tech support to better serve their customers and stand out from the ever-growing competition. Providing tech support has a number of customer benefits including increasing customer confidence in making a purchase and higher levels of customer satisfaction with the product post-purchase.
Retailers, in turn, reap benefits associated with happier customers—increased customer loyalty, operational cost savings from fewer product returns due to a presumed defective product, and a high-margin revenue stream when offering tech support as a premium program.
Consumers feel more confident in buying with the knowledge that post-sales tech support is available. Often, consumers won’t follow through on purchasing a product in which they are interested because they’re not completely certain how it works, and they worry they won’t be able to manage setup and troubleshooting on their own. This is particularly a problem with smart home devices.
Consumers know that the salesperson in-store won’t be able to help them with setup at home, and they may not feel confident enough in their own tech skills to take on trying a new, sometimes complex, category of device.
Furthermore, by helping customers effectively resolve issues they may have with their devices, tech support programs increase customer success, which in turn, reduces returns. The financial implications for retailers are particularly impactful in the case of returns where there is nothing wrong with the product.
Sometimes, the device is fully functioning, but the customer gets so frustrated with setup or troubleshooting, that they just return the product altogether—or worse, they wrongly assume that the device is malfunctioning and swear off that brand entirely. In fact, Parks Associates shares that “27% of smart home device owners who have returned a device returned it due to difficulty with the physical installation of the device. 22% returned a device due to issues configuring the device settings.”
Offering a tech support program—where customers have someone to easily access from home to answer all their questions with a new device—is particularly important during the early days of product ownership, as customers may need increased support and/or resources during the initial product set-up and usage. In fact, Support.com has observed that 80% of customer contacts happen in the first 30 days of product ownership, and 90% within the first 90 days.
Ultimately, consumers who receive post-sales support, and are in turn more satisfied with their product experience, are often more brand loyal to the retailer—viewing the retailer as their “go-to” for connected device purchases.
In some cases, retailers may offer their customers free tech support for a period of time post-purchase, while, more frequently, retailers offer their customers a Premium Tech support program for a fee. Retailers who offer tech support programs free-of-charge use these programs as a way to drive customer loyalty and to gain a competitive edge in the market. By delivering support where other providers can’t, retailers with free tech support programs can look like a “white knight” to many customers, particularly those that are less tech-savvy.
Retailers offering fee-based Premium Tech Support programs typically cover all the devices in the connected home ecosystem, with on-demand service 24/7. Purchasers have the confidence they’ll have the resources to tackle tech problems across the lifecycle of their device, ensuring they can use it successfully for years to come.
Premium tech support programs can be a good source of margin for retailers as part of the overall basket—a valuable addition in the face of declining margin in their core business of hardware sales. Moreover, customers who purchase add-on services from retailers often demonstrate higher brand loyalty, as ongoing services reinforce additional interaction points with the brand.
For instance, Support.com, a full-spectrum leader in outsourced call center technical support solutions for more than twenty years, achieves industry-leading customer satisfaction scores on its tech support programs. With NPS scores often over 80, Support.com develops both free and premium tech support programs for retailers, both white-labeled and co-branded.
In ever-growing competitive markets, more and more retailers are starting to take advantage of outsourced, professional tech support plans in new ways—and for good reason, as it turns out the benefits are even more multitudinous than originally expected.
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