SmartThings Support vs Industry Benchmarks

Continuing the discussion from Samsung announces SmartThings Cloud:

“And both ST\Samsung support are rubbish.”

I’m interested too. Support has always been something I have been most proud of at SmartThings. Developer support, as Terry points out, can be hit or miss and is largely a factor of how much power/freedom/help is given to devs.

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Amazon is almost always at the top of everybody’s ratings for customer satisfaction, including for support.

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As for customer support. There is non from ST\Samsung in the EU\UK.

The web chat doesn’t work and then you have to send a email and you get the normal scripted reply.

Amazon get 9/10 from me.

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Each time I have emailed smart thing support, which I think is fairly often because of all the issues this platform has had, I always get a response within 24 hours. However that response so far has never been useful. It is always yes we know of the bug and we’re working on it or Hey sorry about that that’s just the way it is. Nothing I have ever email to support has ever been fixed, no one has ever actually helped support me through their support email.

Google searches for the answer or these forums are the only way is to get real answers which is pretty sad for a company this large. It seems their focus is on increasing market share and not making the product better. I think the open platform that they have designed is great for all the people that are willing to give, for the most part, free programming to the community but the same time I think it has made smart things lazy about supporting their own product and making it better.

My 2 cents. And keep in mind my comments are coming from someone who has submitted over 30 pull requests against the smart things repo to make things better along with contributing to the ST anything project and trying to help on these forums. I want their product to be better, I just think the community does a better job than smart things at making it better. It seems lately the people at smart things are breaking more things than they’re fixing (slider, 100% battery status, scheduling, etc).

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Yeah, but compare this with Verizon, Netgear (Arlo) or (ugh) Comcast. They can do a lot worse!

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Over the years I have found the SmartThings support staff to be cheerful and interested in solving a problem, but I don’t think first level support has ever actually solved one for me. And more than once they have referred me to a forum post which I had written myself. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

To be fair, I’m probably not contacting them for the simplest stuff, as I have a strong technical background and obviously I do read the forums.

I have found that once support escalated the issue to the engineering staff if needed, the engineering staff have been exceptional. Not just in their technical ability, but in the usual customer support metrics: helpfulness, patience, perseverance.

That doesn’t mean I think the first level staff is unnecessary. Quite the contrary, as I mentioned I think it’s that I’m the outlier because I would’ve already researched most of the first level possible solutions through the status page and the forums before ever reaching out to support. Rather I would expect that in most cases they are responding to the first level issues in the same way the engineering staff responds to the second level ones. I just don’t personally have much experience in that regard. :sunglasses:

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Working in the “consumer sector” is relatively new in my long career. The vast majority has been in very large corporate IT operations (data center hardware & OS: IBM AIX, SunOS, HP/UX; and enterprise platforms like SQL database management software DBMS: Informix, Sybase, Oracle, and middleware).

We required, demanded, and received the highest quality of customer support; first-line through all the deeper layers, and had regular monthly post-mortem (or occasional more urgently mid-incident) reviews with an Account Manager(s) and Tech Support(s) manager assigned to our company, department or project.

I took this level of support for granted and it became an absolute expectation that heads would roll if quality drifted.

But this it was also taken as a simple fact that this level of service came at a price: Usually 20% to 30% (or more!) of the purchase price of the software or hardware, billed annually! For that we received an SLA: Service Level Agreement and could choose different tiers such as 1 hour on-site response 24x7, 4 hours, 24 hours, or business hours best effort only, etc… We nearly always opted for 4 hour response and the related benefits in that package. That often guaranteed a high-level back-office engineer would be flown out to our site the next day, if an issue could not be resolved remotely.

Due to corporate inefficiencies at measuring cost-benefit for hundreds of licenses vs. projects, these “Annual Support & Maintenance” contract costs were sometimes entirely unjustified. They were often purchased out of habit even for development & test systems or redundant systems. But for critical systems, the purchase decision was a “no brainer”: Every hour of downtime could cost us $millions in revenue.


Obviously a SmartThings household is unlikely to experience $million losses due to platform issues and/or unresponsive support. But keep in mind that these Support & Maintenance contracts were priced proportionate to the base hardware or software license purchase price.

Retail consumer products are seldom offered with such high quality support contract options (except at the high end dealer supported systems like Control4, Crestron, Savant, right?). Extended warranties or priority support is sometimes an optional add-on; as is monthly service fee pricing. But proportionately this could never reach the level of quality, engineer access, and personal touch of corporate deals. Because of the low entry price ($99 hub), even a 30% annual support fee would be $30. Not even a fraction of one hour of engineer’s time per year, let alone, per incident.

Still… Extra revenue couldn’t hurt. With monthly recurring revenue, SmartThings would have direct financial incentive to focus on customer retention.

How high the expectations of ST customers be if there was a $10/month fee? Well… Consider the price of your broadband service (ummm… Comcast) and consider the quality or lack thereof of their customer service :confounded:.


And if it’s too hard to get these fees out of Customers, what about large for-profit add-on Developers? A service level agreement at a certain price could be justified by both parties.

Or maybe not? The economics are entirely different at this scale: The bill of materials and retail distribution cost of a hub is absolutely trivial compared to the labor cost of a single support contact by a customer. The only reason support can be provided at all is because only a tiny fraction of customers ever contact support.


Ironically, corporate enterprises discovered this too. By building in redundancy and fail-over, 4 or 24 hour support response is no longer required. Or by outsourcing to pay-as-you-go clouds (external data centers) the economies of scale could finally kick in and benefit everyone… At least for basic issues.

Developers and ventures building on top of a platform or cloud still need expedient personal support from time to time. For small ventures… This commonly just isn’t offered at any price, or any justifiable price. While we have a miniscule frequency of outages, one of ActionTiles’s cloud vendors had an outage one day (their fault, but isolated to a few dozen customers of theirs) and it took them 4 hours for an initial reply, and it wasn’t resolved for 6, and they never apologized or admitted they caused the issue or how they would avoid it in the future. So the business-to-business support attitude has now degraded to the same level as business-to-consumer.

Seems like the recipe for a race to the bottom; or, more likely just a lack of perspective from customers getting amazing technology at trivial pricing?

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Much of it is a brand decision at the very top.

Amazon has amazing customer service, even if you’re just buying a four dollar tube of toothpaste. They want the long-term relationship, and they invest resources in it.

With Apple, as long as I buy the AppleCare contract, again, amazing customer service. And With those products I am often an edge case because of the accessibility issues. But they will assign a case manager, call me back with updates, and eventually get the problem solved if at all possible. Again, for them, it’s about the long term relationship. There’s no question that I pay more for each individual device, plus the service contract, but when I do have a problem the support is great. :sunglasses:

But there are other brands (cough Logitech cough) that just don’t seem to invest in customer service or technical support. I still buy their products, but my expectations are different.

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It’s true.

But with Amazon they have the potential to create a “long term relationship” with hundreds and thousands of repeat sales to a single customer (and annual renewals of Prime, etc., etc.).

As far as I can tell, SmartThings is essentially a single-sale opportunity … with very rare Hub upgrades, and, well, durable goods like appliances and TVs are also replaced rarely. So ST doesn’t have the same incentive as Amazon, unless ST starts selling … smart toothpaste?

Or, of course, monetizing their customers through partnerships. If retaining a SmartThings customer requires costly customer service (which, it really doesn’t … I presume most customers stick with the system rather than return it or move to a competitor); then SmartThings will be inclined to provide that service if it means they will earn larger kickbacks from the real (speculated) future revenue providers: other Samsung divisions, data sales, cross-marketing, …

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It also becomes a brand statement, which is really how Apple is doing it. I buy a lot of Apple devices, but “a lot” still is maybe two a year.

Samsung sells an expensive television every second or so and United States, and multiple very expensive appliances every hour. Brand reputation overall help sell those even if it’s only one to each person every few years.

So sometimes “relationship” is more than just a relationship with a single person, it’s a relationship with the total marketplace. :sunglasses:

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Indeed… So the $10,000,000 question: Does SmartThings help or hurt Samsung’s brand … and vice versa?

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I had a $3000 tv go bad right before it’s warranty expired. Took me three months to resolve with Samsung. Got kicked up to “executive” level support and instead of fixing the TV I really did like, they did a buy back.

That was a few years ago.

A few weeks ago my Samsung dryer started wailing like a banshee. Immediately opened a ticket as warranty expired only 7 days later. They promised a fix the following Monday. Nobody showed up but I got a call saying they’d do a buy back. About a week later and one more call with some paperwork and it was done.

Much better relatively, but this has firmly made me realize Samsung does not in the slightest care about its customers. The occasional buy back is less expensive to them, than keeping a long term customer.

Smart Things on the other hand, may not have helped us “fringe” cases at level one, but darn if they haven’t stood beside us and gotten things fixed. Eventually in some cases, but still, the feeling of ownership and resolve, to me as a customer, has always been very strong.

I truly hope they can keep and improve that perspective under Samsung, because I am truly done with Samsung at this point.

Point in fact, I was just in the market for a new laptop. Had my heart set on a 13" Samsung Notebook 9. Ended up ordering a Lenovo X1 Carbon instead. Because of a broken dryer. I just can’t process the absurdity of that…

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It seems like a tall order for them to help the overall position of Samsung, but every little bit helps! Recently an appliance repairman told me the Samsung laundry stuff is junk. But, he said, “All major brands aren’t what they used to be. I live in a world of junk!” (He was here to look at an LG washer that just beat itself to death!)

These days, we just have to each pick what solution works Well Enough for our particular needs. So far, SmartThings meets my current need — but it is far less than my original hope when I started tinkering with it…

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Samsung sells millions of phones each year. Plus TVs\Blu-ray players\White goods etc…
It’s in their interest to keep customers happy and not to lie to them.
I hear that amazon will bring out a device that will control all present devices. I will buy that if it comes out.

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Admittedly I’ve only had a couple of communications with ST support here in the UK, but my personal experience was that while general Samsung support couldn’t wait to get rid of me fast enough (“You need to contact the Smartthings dept. Here’s the number, kthxby”), ST support were excellent. They listened to my issue, sympathised, and arranged a free replacement of the faulty component. This took slightly longer than originally quoted, but I was kept in the loop throughout. Emails were responded to, and it was clear I was dealing with a real person who was trying his best to solve my problem.

I don’t have any experience in terms of software issues, but for hardware, I’m currently very impressed with ST support. :clap:

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I’ve always had a positive experience with SmartThings support despite most problems being unresolved. They have always been prompt and rather cheerful to work with. Being an advanced user with a system of more than 300 devices, most of the problems that I have engaged support on have been beyond those normally handled by level 1 techs. In fact most have gone unfixed, many being attributed to known issues, 3rd party devices, broken firmware, etc. I will say that they’re making an effort to resolve my longstanding Z-Wave issues in the current beta.

If you want to see what truly poor support is like, try Lowe’s Iris. When I had the system I enjoyed the privilege of direct access to the support manager. She did the best she could to help, but was severely weighed down by a lack of executive leadership along with an inexperienced and under-qualified development team.

There’s room in the middle for sure as SmartThings may not be up to Amazon standards, but they’re far from Iris too.

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