In the modern age, consumers are used to smartphones and computers as devices featuring a wireless connection. However, rapid developments in technology have given rise to the Internet of Things, or IoT-when the internet is connected to physical objects, rendering them “smart objects” with the ability to sensor, process, and act upon data. While many everyday objects are already equipped with sensors which enhance safety or alert us to a problem, what if the sensor went beyond merely indicating an issue and actually offered a solution to the problem? Or, better yet, solved an issue before it could even arise? Such is the power of the Internet of Things. And with this revolutionary concept comes an unprecedented window of opportunity for redefining excellent customer service.
We’ve all suffered from the malfunction of normal household objects; for example, a refrigerator which suddenly stops maintaining its correct temperature. Typically, after spending time trying to diagnose the problem, the consumer resorts to calling customer service agents-translating into more time wasted, added frustration, and likely an expensive repair. In this common scenario, customer service depends on the reactive behavior of the consumer.
With the Internet of Things, customer service turns proactive. By enabling smart objects to communicate problems directly to the manufacturer before the problem actually arises, customer service means diagnosing and predicting problems in a proactive manner. Companies are therefore poised to deliver stellar customer service when smart objects’ data are properly analyzed and addressed, and customers and businesses alike will no longer need to spend time troubleshooting issues which may have been prevented in the first place. While multichannel and omnichannel customer engagement strategies already enable consumers to contact businesses and resolve issues in real-time, smart objects make it possible to deliver such service faster than real-time. This means that contact centers may eventually shift their focus to outbound calls, contacting consumers proactively when a technical problem is anticipated rather than waiting for inbound customer service calls.
According to ABI Research, by 2020 more than 50 billion additional devices will be wirelessly connected to physical objects, with experts predicting that the sensor market will be worth $29 billion by the same year. Many global brands such as Cisco and Bosch have already invested heavily in IoT, the latter having created a special firm-Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions-specifically for IoT devices and services. The smart refrigerator is therefore not a farfetched idea but a real concept for companies seriously invested in delivering such technology to their customers.
As consumers come to expect faster and more effective customer service, companies should consider the potential for capitalizing on IoT as this market continues to grow steadily. By keeping ahead of the latest technology, companies may establish faster than real-time customer service as the rule, and not the exception, to excellent customer service.
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