Just as integrators are getting used to adopting managed service plans with your smart home customers, a new, bold idea could snatch that recurring monthly revenue (RMR) away.
Some new service plans are using a call center and crews across the country to help customers maintain their smart HVAC systems, sensors, shades, lighting, electronics, etc., taking the profit away from integrators and changing the way builders do business.
TruSource Labs provides outsourced end-user support for Internet of Things (IoT) companies, including its first customer, Nest. The company, based in Austin, Texas, also works with Plum and Canary among others, offering customer support in the US, UK and Canada.
“There are a lot of connected devices coming into the home,” says co-founder Alton Martin. “It’s just an exploding space, and I believe some progressive builders would want the ability to stay connected with their customers over time and share a revenue stream, as those devices are installed.”
If you’re wondering if a technical support company like this can succeed, just know it grew from 0 to 325 people in 18 months and will soon add a second call center in Austin.
Its entry-point package costs $8,000 a month. So high-volume builders who construct hundreds of homes with a lot of connected devices get the best bang for their buck.
The company’s offerings are tailor-made for the builder, taking the place of an integrator’s RMR packages. “Our heart and soul is the DNA of service,” says Martin. “We’re 24/7, 365 days. We have a tremendous amount of experienced staff in solving connectivity issues. And that is by far the biggest issue.”
But Martin says his plan is better than any integrator’s because 40 percent of his staff came from Apple and are often paid twice as much as typical support engineers.
The idea of outsourcing support for IoT companies is more common than you think. Twenty-five-year veteran in the integration community Michael Avery has come up with his own plan, which was jumpstarted by his move to California that would leave his customers in Hawaii behind.
“Customers like to have somebody, other than providers, spending time with them to get the most out of the technology they’re spending good money on, kind of an unbiased opinion,” says Avery. “And because tech moves so darn fast, even dedicated integrators get lost in it.”
Avery’s idea is in the beginning stages, but the goal is to provide a third-party service that includes a call center and industry professionals stationed across the country.
They’ll be able to solve a customer’s tech troubles at a moment’s notice, either remotely or by offering door-to-door service. TruSource Labs has only toyed with the idea of sending out technicians.
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Builders do. According to Parks Associates, 16 percent of US households have at least one smart home device, and many homeowners are not familiar with the available services. So it’s the builder’s job to make sure customers are offered sufficient support on the tech installed. After all, if there’s a problem, the builder is on the hook.