articles | 02 December 2021 | EY Cyprus

ΕΥ study, Decoding the digital home: physical retail remains essential for many consumers, despite accelerating digitization

Even as the world moves at breakneck speed toward digital adoption – compounded by national lockdowns – the 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.

  • 41% of survey respondents prefer to buy a smart home device in a physical store
  • The traditional call center is still the preferred customer support channel for broadband and mobile queries
  • Low confidence in digital support tools; call centers preferred contact method

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

Τhe study highlighted that the array of devices, 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. 

Similarly, 36% of all respondents state 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.

Sakis Moyseos, Associate Partner, Consulting Services and Head of Business Consulting and Government Sector at EY Cyprus, said: “As digital products and services, including smart home devices and broadband services, are becoming ever-more sophisticated, users, continue to have a limited understanding and familiarity with them. Paradoxically this includes younger consumers. Many of them also continue to show a preference for physical retail shops and call centers. Suppliers and providers must take this seriously under consideration and provide better guidance, in order to ensure their value proposition is clear and maximize customer satisfaction and loyalty.”  

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