Consider this hypothetical example: a printer is connected to Amazon’s Alexa via WiFi and automatically generates an order request for new toners when ink is running low. However, the toner arrives in a broken box, the container is leaking, and it’s the wrong toner. A typical customer service response is: How can we resolve this issue swiftly for the customer? Therein lies the opportunity for businesses to raise the bar for customer service standards.
From your smart watch to your fridge, almost everything can now be connected to the Internet. ABI Research predicts that by 2020, there will be 30 billion Internet of Things enabled devices worldwide. IOT will fundamentally disrupt how businesses build consumer connections in the service world in 3 ways:
1. A new channel, more data, greater possibilities
In recent years, consumers have been wowed by advancements in the digital customer service space with web chat and chatbots now commonplace. These elevated expectations are transcending into the physical spaces of the products themselves as we enter a world seamlessly connected and ‘always on’. Businesses are communicating with their customers through an average of 14 different channels, up from 9 two years ago, and IOT is an additional channel that organisations need to manage.
With new channels comes new sources of data. Contact centres need to start preparing for an increase in data from both an operational and technological perspective, assessing their existing data management platforms and CRM systems, as well as strengthening their data processing capabilities.
Channel proliferation and more data can lead to greater efficiencies for the organisation. Rolls-Royce uses IOT vehicles that provides maintenance data to their dealerships regarding their vehicle performance and allows for continuous improvement of their products and services.
As Forrester reported in 2018, more consumers expect their smart products to be actively monitored, personalised, improved and updated. This can only be achieved through intelligent mining of the data generated by IOT devices, and if organisations cut across business silos to partner with product engineering, marketing, service, operations, and technology.
2. Customer service will become more predictive and proactive
IOT connected devices are already equipped with health-visibility sensors that allow for real-time notifications. IOT is set to transform customer service from reactive to proactive, thereby enabling a truly excellent and life-long customer experience.
Bosch’s washing machines and dryers come with ‘Home Connect’ which connects via WiFi to Amazon’s Alexa. Consumers can choose their wash-dry cycle, receive notifications in real-time, and receive predictive maintenance alerts that go one step further by asking if they would like to schedule a service call to fix the issue Home Connect has self-diagnosed.
In the future, we can expect that more of these connected devices will self-diagnose, fix routine maintenance issues, and schedule pre-emptive service calls on behalf of the consumer. By connecting issues directly with vendors and manufacturers, organisations will be better positioned to understand issues before they even arise, prepare responses for similar consumer complaints from all service channel, and proactively monitor and troubleshoot these issues.
3. Contact centre agents will need to become more specialised
With the increase in channels and influx of data, a greater percentage of consumer requests may be resolved without human intervention. Therefore when a consumer does approach an agent, it will be for more complex and technical enquiries. Consequently, the role of the contact centre agent will transform from that of a generalist, able to handle a wide array of more basic queries, to that of a technical specialist, able to handle complex queries regarding smart devices that interact within an ecosystem of other devices and software. Thus existing agents will need to have specialist training and capabilities to provide this cross-device, cross-channel support.
More than just a solution and answer provider, the contact centre agent will need to become a trusted advisor of the customer, able to respond to empathy and nuance in ways that chatbots may not. They must be able to action IOT data before the consumer even realises the problem. Consequently, we can expect much higher-value transactions to take place in contact centre interactions, as well as real opportunities to drive revenue, cross-sell, upsell, and deliver positive value to the consumer.
IOT is the next frontier of the CX journey; an opportunity for organisations to re-engage with their consumers in more imaginative ways. The time is ripe for businesses to capitalise on IOT and deliver truly exceptional customer service. Far from becoming obsolete, the contact centre remains at the heart of this transformation, however it needs to keep pace with the continual changes we are witnessing today.
Susan Maginn is an Associate Consultant in Customer Engagement and a member of Capgemini Invent’s Customer Channel Transformation team. She has experience in and is passionate about digital marketing transformation and the Consumer Products sector.