Leveraging the Internet of Things to Drive the Future of Customer Service

By Mohamed Afifi, Managing Director, Genesys Middle East


Much has been said about the Internet of Things (IoT) in recent years, but few realize the degree to which it has already become mainstream rather than a future trend. We interact with a number of smart devices on a daily basis -- from our smartphones and watches, to our fitness trackers and digital assistants. In the commercial realm, the proliferation of IoT devices is even more profound with vehicles, appliances, manufacturing equipment, and even buildings now fully equipped with network-connected sensors that continuously collect and share data.


Forrester, in its recent report titled Plan Now for Customer Service in 2021*, highlighted five emerging technologies that are already shaping the future of customer care. The research firm predicted that in the next five years there will be over 30 billion connected devices, making IoT a trend that will impact companies across nearly every industry. With all this information available in near real-time, businesses must determine how to leverage it to create better customer experiences.


Benefits of IoT for Customer Service


1. Driving Dynamic Engagement Strategies

Many companies rely on traditional strategies to drive sales. While these may be built on comprehensive market studies and insight, they are, in essence, static models. This means that sudden changes in customer mentality are often missed, resulting in lost opportunities.


Leveraging IoT can help companies avoid this mistake by creating dynamic business strategies. By using the wealth of information garnered by IoT, companies can develop relationship-centric service models that are fined-tuned to customer behaviour. As preferences change, so too can strategies. They can be rapidly adapted so that the business is always aligned with customer needs.


2. Driving Proactive Issue Resolution

By analysing the data generated from IoT devices, organizations can not only rapidly adapt to changes and trends, but can also take proactive measures to pre-empt product and service requirements. IoT makes it possible for products to directly inform manufacturers of challenges or defects before they turn into problems. Mitigating an issue without the customer having to raise a complaint turns service into a proactive function.


Such proactivity is particularly critical in industries such as healthcare. If a connected health-monitoring device that continuously sends data back to the manufacturer were to report a sudden or unexpected result, it could trigger and engage emergency services, automatically saving precious time and possibly even saving lives. Such proactivity can be introduced into almost any industry to deliver a level of service that far surpasses customer expectations.


Preparing Customer Service for IoT

Creating dynamic business strategies will require organizations to effectively use big data being generated from IoT devices. The good news is that advancements in cloud technology have made collecting and storing big data much simpler and more affordable than in past years. Organizations should be careful to select cloud solutions that include advanced analytics for customer engagement so they can maximize the value of big data.


Another prerequisite to an IoT-based customer service approach is to have an integrated customer relationship management system that enables the business to track customer data through the lifecycle of the engagement. A contact centre solution that supports omnichannel engagement will be fundamental. In the same way an organisation manages and tracks customer service requests via the phone, email, web chat and social media channels, they will have to incorporate requests coming from IoT devices. Unless an omnichannel strategy is used, IoT will become yet another silo’d channel of communication, thus actually hurting rather than helping customer service.


The Time is Now

IoT is already creating new opportunities for businesses to engage with their customers. It’s not a question of whether or not organizations should invest in big data and IoT, but rather how quickly they can get into the game. As millennials come of age, personalization and attention to detail will be central to shaping customer service strategies. While leveraging IoT data to drive better customer service can give businesses a competitive advantage today, it will soon be a basic necessity as businesses across verticals look to draw on every bit of customer data they have to deliver hyper-personalized experiences.


* Plan Now for Customer Service in 2021, Forrester Research, June 28, 2016. Download the report here: http://www.genesys.com/about/resources/forrester-report-plan-now-for-customer-service-in-2021?cid=7010B000001YEw5.


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