You’ve undoubtedly heard of the Internet of Things (IoT). So what is it? According to Forbes, IoT is described as everyday objects that can be connected to the Internet and be recognized by other devices and contribute info to a database. The Internet of Things describes Internet V.2, where data is created by things.
IoT is changing the way we work and live. Are you up-to-date on how it’s changing customer service? To find out, we reached out to Michael King, President of Data Analytics and IoT Solutions, a division of LHP Engineering Solutions.
“Customers expect IoT,” he explained. “It isn’t an added feature. Customers will vote with their feet and with their pocketbooks on which companies, products and partners they go with, based on how tightly integrated the customer service experience is for them.”
Here are three ways the IoT is improving the customer experience.
REAL-TIME OFFERS A REAL ADVANTAGE
IoT (connecting products to anything from a simple app on your phone to a complex support system) lets you see what’s happening between customers and their products in real-time. “Not only can we see how our customers are using their products, we can see if it’s meeting their needs,” Michael told us.
Getting first-hand, real-time data answers customer service questions like:
- Are we truly meeting the customer’s needs?
- Is the data what we expected it to be?
- How does this information relate to what our customers are telling us through other channels, like service desks, repairs or net promotor scores?
“We can start anticipating problems before they occur,” Michael said. “Customers expect it. In today’s competitive market, a product needs to be smart, it needs to be connected, with proactive customer service and response built in.”
THE ABILITY TO TRACE ISSUES HELPS SOLVE SERVICE PROBLEMS
The connection between your smart, connected product and your smart, connected operation lets you trace issues all the way back to the manufacturing space.
“With a lot of our cars, trucks, trains, and other bigger equipment, the integration of the electronics, happens in the manufacturing space. How well that’s done will affect quality and customer satisfaction,” Michael said, going on to explain that when you have the ability to trace issues in real time, you can predict failures and determine where they came from. This allows you to:
- Discover if it’s a systemic issue
- Ensure there is a fix in place
- Find out how many customers may be at risk because of a failure
- Manage warrantee claims and service claims as planned events, rather than reactive responses
OPEN THE DOOR TO SERVE CUSTOMERS IN NEW WAYS
The third way Michael sees IoT as a customer service advantage is by using data to answer engineering questions such as:
- Was this product really engineered to do what it’s doing?
- Is what we’re seeing in the field what we predicted? If not, why didn’t we predict it ahead of time?
- How do we incorporate our findings into future versions of the product?
- Should we add a new feature, make a change, or create a new product?
- How do we improve what our customers are experiencing, and make it an added feature instead of a failure response?
Michael shared the following example. Suppose a customer is driving uphill and the engine isn’t getting the efficiency that’s expected. If the manufacturer can see a problem before it’s a problem, understand how to resolve it, and make it an added feature or a new release, then:
- Problems are solved before the customer sees them and complains
- Customers receive better value or better capability, which helps them run a better business.
- Companies can create stronger partnerships than if issues were simply recognized as failures because of a “response ticket”
“We’re now seeing our customers use products in ways we’ve never thought about before,” Michael said. For example, an industrial door company wanted to use the IoT to sense when doors would open and close. They discovered it’s possible to also sense who was coming and going. That valuable information could be integrated into the product line and become marketable. So, the client went into a meeting thinking that they were just going to have a smarter door and came out of the meeting with an evolved business model.
BOTTOM LINE: CUSTOMERS EXPECT IT.
“IoT provides an opportunity to be connected with your customer like never before,” Michael said. “The companies that use it are going to win, in whatever industry they’re in. The companies that don’t are going to be at a disadvantage and that disadvantage can be significant.”
How about you?
Remember, as IoT evolves and businesses get smarter and more connected, the need for leaders and teams to work well together is critical. Improving communication and relationships with the people inside your company, and with those you serve, needs to move to the top of the priority list to create service excellence.
How is the IoT affecting the customer service at your organization?
Written by Marilyn Suttle, conference speaker, trainer, and bestselling author who works with organizations to ensure a strong customer focus and successful leadership teams. Reach out to Marilyn by email at: Marilyn@MarilynSuttle.com
Resources to support your service excellence:
Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan by Marilyn Suttle and Lori Jo Vest is known as the business bible – a blueprint for client service success.
Taming Gladys! The Busy Leader’s Guide to Creating Fierce Customer Loyalty is filled with activities you can do with your staff to keep customer loyalty strong.
The Customer Service Roadmap is an in-house customer service training program designed for employees who have front line customer contact, face-to-face, telephone, email, chat, forums, etc. It’s a series of short, bite-sized courses focused on developing 7 core customer service skills.