The Future of Connected Service

In the digital age of online and automated communication, field-based technicians in the
cable and satellite industry are often one of the only ways that a consumer interacts inperson
with their communications service provider. Some have speculated that in the
not-too-distant future, there won’t be any more set-top boxes for technicians to work on,
and that connected devices will “self-install,” eliminating the need for human intervention
to connect the elements of the connected world altogether.

But what CSG heard from consumers in a recent market poll was quite the opposite –
over the next 3 years, consumers will want human help more than ever before to build
connections between the machines in their homes.

In a survey of 2,000 consumers across 5 countries, respondents who use cable, satellite
television or paid television service on a regular basis, made predictions about how the
connected home will become connected. According to the survey results, the potential
complexity of connecting these devices together to create a connected home will require
human intervention from skilled and reputable resources.

Even in the connected age, a personal touch still matters

Over the next 3 years, nearly half of all respondents expect that home security and
monitoring systems and home automation devices such as remote light controls and door
locks will be the most commonly installed connected devices.

Consumers polled said they expect to seek help with these device installations, ranging
from in-person installations to referencing online expertise. Of course, many consumers
expect to access online help to address both installation and troubleshooting tasks,
with 40% believing that consumers will turn to online help for even simple installations.
However, if their cable or satellite service technician could connect the smart home, 89%
said they expect that consumers will be very likely to use the service and 87% held this
belief for repair and troubleshooting issues.

In addition, when it comes to knowing that a technician is on their way, consumers expect
a personal interaction will still be important, with 74% preferring a phone call or text
directly from the technician. The remaining 26% preferred an automated option such as a
push notification, robocall or email.

Help is wanted to make both simple and complex connections

At what point will consumers turn to an expert for help? According to results, 84% of
respondents believe that consumers will want help from a skilled technical resource to
connect just 2-5 devices.

When it comes to complex installations (connecting multiple devices), 65% of respondents
felt that consumers will want a technical resource to help them, pushing self-guided online
help to only 29%. In addition, respondents reported that they believe 67% of consumers
will be not at all confident to do complex installations on their own, and 44% believe
that consumers will be only somewhat confident to complete even simple (single device)
installs on their own.

A connected service provider needs a good app and a good reputation

Much like calling a taxi for nearly instant transportation, if professional technical help
could be requested in the moment that installation or repair service was needed, 39% of
respondents believe consumers will want on-demand installation or repair service 1/2 to
3/4 of the time.

Once smart home devices become part of daily life, 96% of respondents think that
consumers will want an app to access all of their connected devices from a central point.
Notably, when seeking help, 58% of respondents said that finding a reputable company
to provide their technical help was their most important criteria – outweighing both ondemand
access to help and the lowest cost option.

Key takeaways for CSPs with field-based technicians

As a trusted partner to the majority of the U.S. broadband, cable and satellite market
since the company’s inception, CSG has decades of expertise in guiding cable and satellite
operators and other CSPs into the era of serving the digital consumer. Based on survey
findings, CSG sees several key ways for cable and satellite operators to take action to
prepare their operations to serve the expanding needs of the connected consumer.
Prepare for the evolving role of the field technician

Stratecast predicts that the U.S. home automation market for sensors and networking
components alone will exceed $9 billion by 2021 from approximately $5 billion in 2017.
With nearly 90% of survey respondents indicating that they expect consumers would be
very likely to use a cable or satellite service technician to connect the smart home if the
service was offered, there is clearly an opportunity for CSPs to evolve the skills of their
field service technicians and build on their ability to route, schedule and monitor progress
of service orders.

Survey respondents have predicted that professional, technical resources will play a
significant role in the future of connected service when it comes to bridging the gap
between consumers and the world of machines around us. The key question that cable and
satellite operators must consider is how they will prepare today’s field-based technicians
to provide connected service to consumers, when and when they need it.
According to survey results, this interest begins with connecting just 2 devices in the
home, so the need may begin as an add-on to a current service call. CSG is already seeing
its CSP customers begin to support break-fix-repair requests for iPads and iPhones in the
home and we expect the demand for this capability to grow over the next 3-5 years.

Offer an app that centralizes access to all of a consumer’s connected devices and
offers an Uber-like model to call for help

Much like the difficulty of saving entertainment content like movies and TV series across a
variety of providers and logins, connected devices have the potential to become difficult
for the average consumer to track and manage. An app that centralizes access to the
connected home appeals to 96% of respondents, indicating a clear opportunity for CSPs
to aggregate services into a single portal.

When asked about what features of an app consumers would prefer to use for a service
call, the majority of respondents ranked a messaging center that allows the user to
communicate directly with the technician as the most important feature, followed closely
by a technician tracker which shows the technician’s location and estimated arrival time.
Most respondents believe consumers will want to use on-demand installation or repair
service 1/4 to 3/4 of the time, making dynamic dispatching a critical function to serve the
connected consumer.

Creating new efficiency serves today’s field force and tomorrow’s opportunities

To get ahead of the growing connected home opportunity, there are key capabilities that
CSPs should put in place today to drive efficiency into their current operations, while
paving the way for the expanding role of field service.

  • Resource Planning and Scheduling – done continuously throughout the day, allows
    for the dynamic dispatch of technicians and resources to enable quick response to
    changing conditions.
  • Technician and Contractor Management – flexibility to define skills of in-house or
    contract technicians and align available resource to customer, house, order, or line of
    business need.
  • Open Workflow from Multiple Types of Service Requests
  • Break/fix – customer calls, service company sends a technician
  • Preventative – scheduled network/appliance maintenance work
  • Predictive – use analytics to determine when specific ‘markers’ indicate a propensity
    for a problem and proactively send a technician
  • IoT/smart network alerts – receive feedback and intelligence from networks and/
    or IP-based devices to proactively create a service request
  • Omnichannel Customer Engagement – ensure that the customer is kept current on
    service status via the communication channel(s) they prefer, including self-service
    scheduling, rescheduling and service or technician status inquiries.

In summary, the need for installing and managing the broadband connection and the
complexity of home networking, as well as the IoT sector, will require active field service
support for a long time to come.

TSIA says that 76% of field service providers report they are struggling to achieve revenue
growth. To capitalize on new revenue opportunities, CSPs that optimize the human support
systems will be best positioned to capitalize on the evolving digital services market.