For all the money technology companies spend to design, manufacture and market their computers, routers, cameras, backup drives and other high-tech products to consumers, you might think that they also did the research and work to be sure that the products were easy and trouble-free to install.
But that may not be so, according to a new study of some 2,200 U.S. consumers by online technical support vendor Support.com. The anonymous online study, which was conducted in April 2016, asked users about their overall experiences as they researched, bought, installed and worked to troubleshoot their new IT products.
Amazingly, almost 60 percent of the consumers in the study said that the combined setup and installation process for a product, along with troubleshooting with a vendor's tech support resources, is "the most challenging part of their customer journey and requires the most effort, " according to the report.
And when the product is particularly problematic, consumers said they had no problem taking their unhappy purchases back to the stores where they bought them.
For a product that costs more than $200, about 90 percent of the consumers reported that they would return it within a week if setup and installation is too difficult. For products costing less than $200, 87 percent of consumers reported they would also return the annoying products.
Interestingly, though, consumers don't give up right away when they run into setup and installation issues with a product, the report said. For products costing more than $200, 72 percent said they would spend more than one hour researching their purchase to get it to work. Overall, approximately 52 percent of the respondents said they would be willing to put some amount of personal effort in to engage with support to get their product to work before returning it.
I am actually surprised about how high these dissatisfaction numbers are, although they are from just a single study of 2,200 users. But when I think about it, I can understand the frustration of these users because I, too, have been there.
In May, I helped a friend buy and install an automatic portable backup drive on her work laptop to save her personal data for safekeeping. We bought a big-name drive and took it back to her house, where it would not install properly. We returned it and tried another brand, but suffered the same results. Because the laptop had administrative controls, it wouldn't let us install the drives. And because phone resources for the companies were unavailable after dinner, we couldn't reach tech support to get help. My friend still has no backup.
For manufacturers, the most stinging results of the survey are the after-effects. Some 64 percent of the consumers said they would stop buying a brand's products and would look at competitor's gear due to setup hassles that couldn't be fixed.
I sure hope that vendors are paying attention. They've got lots of work to do to fix these problems.