How to Make the Internet of Things Do Your Customer Experience Work for You
There isn’t a company in the world that is immune to the impact of delivering poor customer experience. If you aren’t striving to listen to your customers, meet their demands, exceed their expectations, and deliver consistent, quality customer experience, you risk losing your loyal customers, your potential customers, your profits, your reputation and even your employees.
A new way to look at customer contact
These harsh realities have led to the rise of what is known as the customer-centric organization. Customer-centric organizations anticipate future needs by looking at behavioral patterns, market trends and leveraging data from both outside and inside their organizations. They provide unique, memorable experiences that are seamless across all of the possible interaction channels: voice, email, Web chat, fax, SMS/IM, social media, and self service. And, most importantly, customer-centric organizations define themselves not by the products they make and sell, but by the customers they serve, the customer problems they solve, and the quality customer experience they deliver.
Complexity fuels challenges
This poses significant challenges for businesses striving to be customer-centric. They need customer experience solutions that empower their customers with flexible interaction methods at anytime, anywhere, and allow customers to serve themselves. They need unified communications capabilities that break down the silos associated with the traditional contact center and provide seamless experiences across the organization, from the 7% of employees that typically associate as agents working in a contact center, to the 93% of employees that don’t self-identify with being part of a contact center, yet continually interact with customers (like sales, marketing, finance, and operations personnel).
The most difficult part of becoming a customer-centric organization is understanding your customer inside and out so you can anticipate future needs, proactively engage with them, and continually exceed their expectations.
However, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated the ability to monitor, measure, and manage customer experience and product use, driving significant change in the way businesses interact with customers, and transforming customer experience forever.
It’s hard to believe, but for almost a decade, the number one user of the Internet hasn’t been humans, it’s been “things”—Internet-enabled electronics, sensors, and software. This network of objects that can be sensed, monitored, and controlled remotely across network infrastructure is commonly known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Gartner forecasts 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and that this number will reach 25 billion by 2020.
An IoT use case
To truly understand the possibilities for the IoT and customer-centric organizations, let’s consider a use case: the connected car. Having an Internet-enabled car is one thing, but the customer experience benefits of a connected car far surpass being able to tap into the Internet for access to cloud-based music services or maps and navigation technology. Using sensors installed in cars, drivers can now proactively monitor almost everything in the car, from the engine, to lights, to tire pressure—and then receive warnings and notifications in the event the car needs parts or maintenance.
This not only improves the customer experience by saving drivers from being stranded in the middle of nowhere dealing with car troubles, but it also allows car companies to collect valuable user and performance data from vehicles that can be funneled back into the design of future vehicles to improve usability and performance. So not only does the Internet of things improve the customer experience now, but it also has a significant impact on improving it in the future.
From buzzword to reality
The Internet of things once seemed like a buzzword that people had a hard time making sense of, but its effects on our day-to-day lives is now more noticeable than ever. Whether customers benefit from trusting that internet-connected ATMs and soda machines are always well stocked, to tracking the shipping of products purchased online, to receiving proactive notifications that a car needs maintenance, it’s clear the Internet of things can have serious impacts on customer experience.
As companies continue to strive to be more customer-centric, one thing is clear—the companies that embrace the Internet of things to build and maintain quality customer relationships will be the companies that discover new revenue opportunities, differentiate themselves from their competitors, and keep the most satisfied customers.