Three Ways to Engage Customers on SMART Products and Services.

Posted by Lauren Bell on February 18, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 3.04.56 PM WATCH customer video.

We’ve made it. All those years of watching the Jetsons and we’re finally (kind of, almost, sort of) there… if we want to be.

Consumers have the option for SMART solutions for everything, from the car to the thermostat to the lights to the way they power their homes.

And interestingly enough, in our conversations with customers, we hear one thing time and time again on topics like smart technology, lighting, products, and even just, energy efficiency:

“It’s so overwhelming. I don’t know where to begin.”

People want these things – a more connected home, automated convenience and a smaller footprint – but it’s so overwhelming that interested customers are either not taking action or they’re not aware of the solutions.

There’s a disconnect between the customer’s idea and their experience. Listen to these customers. There are products and solutions for all of their challenges. But it’s not on the radar for them. No one’s gotten their attention.

While there are several factors that weigh into this, we’re going to focus on one:

We’ve got a marketing problem, people!!!

A quote from Landon Borders (Director of Connected Devices at Big Ass Solutions), “We live in the age of instant gratification. Now, more so than ever, consumers have a tendency to solve problems in ‘real time’… The harder it is for consumers to understand or realize the value in making an investment, the less likely they are to pull the trigger. Many energy-related products and services provide value over the periods of months or years, but consumers want gratification now. It’s our responsibility to help them actively think about comfort and the insufficient offerings – like the traditional noisy, wobbling fan – that they’ve accepted as the norm. We aim to shift that paradigm every single day.”

A worthy goal. Let’s try it, shall we?

This Harris Poll survey further proves this disconnect. Majority of adults feel it’s important that smart home technology...

  • Saves them money (91%)
  • Conserves energy (90%)
  • Helps keep them and/or their family safe (89%)

However, far fewer believe the technology actually meets these criteria. Only...

  • 50% believe the technology currently helps save money
  • Six in ten (or less) say it currently conserves energy
  • 59% believe it helps keep them and/or their family safe

When selling products or services that are highly personal (you’re talking about people’s home!) and complex, we like to go back to the basics. Don’t allow yourself or your teams to make any assumptions. For instance:

  • What is a conceptual smart home?
  • What is energy efficiency?
  • WHY do people want these things?

The WHY is where things get interesting. The WHY will vary. And in today’s landscape, you have the ability to talk to customers around the WHY that matters to them.

They don’t want to hear why your product or offering is good for a cool, hip family in San Fran, they want to know the value it will bring to them and their home. They are unique.

Leverage your data and media intelligence (or find a partner who can) and you will simplify the experience for your customers.

It starts with a personalized message.

In KSV’s 2015 E.E. consumer research, we saw a stark difference in the values of smart technology.

For example, homeowners (under the age of 45) value “control remotely” above anything else (including: family security, financial savings and home comfort).

Almost 50% homeowners 45+ value the financial savings most. And interestingly enough, this group overwhelmingly described “control remotely” as giving control away.

Understanding different motivations is critical in answering the WHY.

According to Accenture, more than two-thirds of customers plan to buy connected technology for their homes by 2019.

Well, it’s 2016 and the countdown is on. And all we have left to fulfill our Jetsons fantasy is a space car. (Though they probably exist somewhere.)

If we want to exceed this two-thirds goal, we need to change the conversation. We need to talk with customers in a new way. We need to leverage where each customer is in their personal journey and where you fit into that equation.

  • Sell the vision before talking details: Customers need to want your product or service before they’re interested in hearing the details. If the details are given too quickly, they’re overwhelmed. You’ve lost her. She’s either given up. Or moved onto another product she understands.
  • Prove you understand the WHY: Understand your customer and why your offering provides value to them. This is how you will get their attention. (And if there is no why… you are talking to the wrong customer. And wasting your own marketing dollars.)
  • Get to the point: Time is precious. And customers are only willing to spend so much of it with you. Make sure there is no part of the customer experience that takes more time than it should. Or… You know.


It’s fair to say that customer expectations of you grow every day. Their demands are somewhat unruly, but as a great marketer once said… “When it comes to the customer, perception is reality.”

Their demands are not things you can meet overnight, but with an experienced, strategic partner, you can create a plan to deliver relevant content and a streamlined user experience in less time than you would imagine. Call us. We’d love to help.

Stay tuned for KSV’s 2016 E.E. Market Research on Engaging the Changing Customer. We look forward to sharing our insights with you.

Lauren Bell / Senior Engagement Strategist / 212.366.4000 /

Dave Treston / Senior Brand Planner / 802.862.8261 /

Topics: Customer-Centric Marketing, Customer Engagement, Customer Insight, communications, connected home, energy efficiency, Energy Wire, Home Improvement, Intelligent Efficiency, IoT, KSV research, marketing, #SES2016, Shopping Experience, Smart Home, smart products

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