- 41% of survey respondents prefer to buy a smart home device in a physical store
- Under 35-year-olds more likely to favor in-store purchases than older consumers
- Low confidence in digital support tools; call centers preferred contact method
Even as the world moves at breakneck speed toward digital adoption – compounded by national lockdowns – the fourth chapter of EY study, Decoding the digital home, reveals that brick-and-mortar retail remains a crucial element of the customer journey for digital home users. Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents would prefer to visit a retail store when purchasing a mobile device or package, rising to 41% when purchasing a smart home device.
“Despite the sustained effort to communicate the benefits of new technologies and digital channels in the relationship between customers and suppliers, households prefer purchasing from physical stores and audio contact with the human operator, emphasizing the need for a unified approach to the concept of "customer experience". At the same time, it highlights the importance of a balanced approach to technology, with access to human, empathetic, and educated operators regarding the services and products offered", said Cristian Carstoiu, Consulting Partner, EY Romania.
The survey – of more than 18,000 household residents across Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US – also finds that the traditional call center dominates customer support channel preferences, despite the heavily marketed advantages of frictionless digital tools such as chatbots. Speaking to an agent is still the preferred contact method for broadband (54%) and mobile customer queries (52%). Forty-two percent of consumers favor call centers because they don’t believe they can articulate pain points effectively without speaking to an agent and 45% believe instant messaging cannot handle complex queries.
Limited understanding of digital home connectivity
Consumer awareness of the latest products and services is surprisingly low, according to the survey. Less than half (42%) of household residents understand the features of smart home products, and only 37% grasp the benefits of 5G mobile. Nearly a third (32%) also find communications services very difficult to understand while 36% struggle to differentiate between the services offered by various broadband providers. Notably, users aged 45-54 are least exposed to problems with understanding services (29%), compared with 36% of those aged 18-24.
Frustrations undermine positive customer experience
Services and platforms leaves consumers with confusion around content choices, again, particularly among younger groups. Thirty-nine percent of those aged 18-24 find it difficult to track their favorite content such as films and TV programs.
Regarding the user experience, 36% of all respondents stating that they are not confident setting up a smart appliance and 27% agree that setting up and managing TV apps is complex. Navigating service provider websites is also a pain point for many: 20% find their mobile provider’s website or app difficult to navigate while 23% find their broadband provider’s website or app difficult to use. For 18-24-year-olds, this rises to 31% and 30% respectively.
Consumers lack confidence setting up and managing connectivity and content services, while interacting with service provider apps and websites is a painful experience for many – with younger users particularly exposed. Connectivity providers must help customers become more self-reliant by offering clearer guidance on how to install services and manage preferences. Failure to do so will undermine customer satisfaction and loyalty.
About EY Romania
EY is one of the world's leading professional services firms with 298,000 employees in more than 700 offices across 150 countries, and revenues of approx. $37.2 billion in the financial year that ended on 30 June 2020. Our network is the most integrated worldwide, and its resources help us provide our clients with services allowing them to take advantage of opportunities anywhere in the world.
With a presence in Romania ever since 1992, EY is the leading company on the market of professional services. Our more than 800 employees in Romania and Moldova provide seamless assurance, tax, legal, strategy and transactions, and consulting services to clients ranging from multinationals to local companies. Our offices are based in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Iasi and Chisinau. In 2014, EY Romania joined the only global competition dedicated to entrepreneurship, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year. The winner of the national award represents Romania at the world final taking place every year in June, at Monte Carlo. The title of World Entrepreneur Of The Year is awarded in the world final. For more information, please visit: www.ey.com
About the study
Decoding the digital home is based on an online survey conducted for EY of more than 18,000 household residents in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the USA. The study is produced annually, and this year’s research was conducted in December 2020 and January 2021. The survey is designed to understand changing consumer attitudes toward technology, connectivity and content experienced in the home – and the companies that provide these products and services.