Do we really want to DIY our home automation?

New industry research from Icontrol Networks, the company behind the most widely-distributed connected home platform in the industry, has found exceptionally high satisfaction amongst customers who opted for a professionally installed smart home solution.

Icontrol Networks’ DIFM (“Do it for me”) Smart Home Survey revealed more than 96 percent of respondents report they are very satisfied or satisfied with their systems. Beyond satisfaction, those with professionally-installed solutions feel the cost is justified – approximately 96 percent said they would purchase their systems again and 98 percent would still opt for professional installation today.

The research surveyed 552 respondents across seven branded smart home solutions – including solutions powered by Icontrol Networks as well as other technology providers. Admittedly it’s a relatively small subject sample, but the results are unusually positive suggesting a high degree of satisfaction in smart home products.

The report also found that security and peace-of-mind reign supreme during the decision making process and are top motivating factors for customer retention, with general security concerns and specific security events being the top reasons most people purchase a system in the first place.

DIY could mean missing out on some features

While 98 percent of respondents said their systems were easy to learn and use, most are still using their systems for single-device control instead of whole home automation where devices work together seamlessly. And although all providers mentioned in the survey offer systems with scheduling or automation features, only 29 and 35 percent of respective users thought their solutions offered these features, pointing to a lack of awareness around the offering.

While less than a quarter of respondents installed third-party devices, those that did were most likely to install smart thermostats, smart garage doors and Amazon Echo.

Most customers who purchased a smart home system were already proactively looking for a system, but when it came to picking a provider, reputation proved to matter.  When asked why they chose their service provider, more than half (60%) cited the reputation of the company. When evaluating systems, most went to websites (72%) or recommendations by family/friends  (51%), and 43% found more information via advertising.

What DIYers found most difficult

When asked about difficulty of usage, most customers reported setting alerts, schedules and automation rules as the most difficult features of the system to use.  This is interesting considering how many systems there are to connect multiple devices, does it mean that a fully connected home is more accessible to the DIY home installer than those who opt for professionally installed system?  It suggested in the first instance, that there is a need for professionally installed providers to take time (possibly on an ongoing basis) to educate customers on the possibilities.

Customers are relying on materials supplied by service providers (both printed and online) to learn the system, which indicates the importance for companies to develop appropriate education documentation. The data also shows that once customers have had their system for some time, they turn to customer support to troubleshoot proving that a knowledgeable tech support team is invaluable.

Most customers printed instructions (59%) to learn their systems, as well as the online user guide (54%).When it comes to troubleshooting issues, customers overwhelmingly relied on customer service/technical support (76% of total). This demonstrates that there is a need for clear, ongoing training and support for consumers in the smart home market.

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