Attention CE Manufacturers:

This probably won't seem like rocket science to most audiophiles, but it should be taken to heart by everyone in the highly competitive world of consumer electronics. A new study reveals that for consumers, customer support is nearly as important as the product itself. According to the results of the "Customer Support Issues" study, released last week by eBrain Market Research in cooperation with the Consumer Electronics Association, rebate offers, warranties and availability of support resources are the key customer support issues for consumers.

The report, free to CEA member companies, finds that a strong sense of security in one's ability to set-up and operate the product, as well as warranty coverage after a sale, can be determining purchase factors for consumers. 67% of respondents stated that it is reasonable to expect a manufacturer's standard warranty to cover the cost of repairs or replacement for up to one year after purchase. However, approximately 20% of consumers believe that consumer electronics products should be covered for "as long as the product is owned." That number increases to 28% among younger consumers.

Another factor cited as important: respondents expressed a desire for ease of access to customer support resources. The report says that "while user manuals are still the most popular source of assistance to consumers who have basic questions, more and more consumers are turning to e-mail and online resources for support."

Finally, one of every two consumers has purchased a consumer electronics product that included a rebate offer, and 70% of consumers who were offered a rebate claimed that the offer had a positive effect on their purchase decision. 85% of respondents claimed to have redeemed the rebate offer.