“The customer journey is awash in opportune moments.” — Futurist Christina “CK” Kerley, in SAP’s Insights on the Future of the Internet of Things
Data gathered from smart devices can transform the customer experience, creating personalized and meaningful connections. Internet of Things (IoT) applications can improve your interactions with customers and enhance their experiences. The possibilities are endless, but we've narrowed it down to four main areas.
Make Life More Pleasant
Imagine the brand loyalty that can be created by simply (or not so simply) making life more pleasant?
It can be as basic as having your favorite coffee – or cocktail – waiting for you, Futurist Christina Kerley observes. She offers the scenario of a commuter stepping off the train and receiving a text from a coffee shop asking, “Shall we have your usual waiting for you?”
Seeta Hariharan of Tata Consultancy Services presents a scenario in which a water main break leads to traffic tie-ups. “What if shoppers traveling to an uptown supermarket were automatically alerted to visit the midtown store instead? Before long, consumers will expect their favorite stores to deliver these kinds of experiences, made possible through connected consumer intelligence,” she writes in TechTarget.
IoT application technologies can create a hyper-personalized experience precisely when and where the customer needs it. They can also alleviate some of life’s tedium.
Many printers already reorder their own ink, and one day your refrigerator or pantry may be ordering its own food. And when considering all the ways IoT can be used in retail, sensors on pantries, or on the products themselves, could one day automatically re-order groceries when supplies drop.
We’re there today – at least in the early stages. Amazon Dash Replenishment Service allows connected devices to – in Amazon’s words –“leverage Amazon's retail platform to build automatic reordering experiences for your customers.” For example, a smart pet food dispenser could place an order before Fluffy and Spike run out of kibble.
For now, the onus is largely on the consumer to lift a finger. Amazon’s Echo and Dash allow shoppers to restock everything from detergent, to tampons, to Doritos just by asking – or in the case of Dash, pressing a button. Amazon Go stores are following similar IoT trends. HP, Staples, Walmart, and others are following suit.
This makes the customer’s life easier, and that improves customer service and retention. "IoT can help you bring calm to the storm by offering a helping hand to your customers when they need it,” Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum and author of Futureproof, writes in Forbes.
Reduce Time Spent on Maintenance and Customer Support Calls
Because IoT can help you learn how customers are using your products, you can improve products proactively and fix problems in real time – or at least automatically schedule a time for the “fix.”
This predictive maintenance can help you avoid unhappy customers. For example, a device in the car’s operating system can detect a potential electrical failure before it happens and contact the mechanic, who will call to schedule a service appointment, Ersegün Koçoğlu, founder of MarketMe Marketing Consultancy, tells the Canadian Marketing Association. “It is not hard to imagine that the loyalty to the car brand will increase exponentially based on this positive scenario.”
Think about the potential. Customers dislike scheduling maintenance and repairs, and they are often frustrated by customer support. According to Cap Gemini, CSAT (a measure of customer satisfaction) ratings are a function of customer support. “Imagine if customers could preempt vendors’ IVR systems, call centers, support forums and other systems and incidents could be logged seamlessly based on sensor reporting?”
The customer gets regular preventive maintenance with less hassle at a lower cost. The refrigerator, HVAC, or washing machine could identify the problem and the needed parts, open a ticket – even find the right technician – before the customer is even aware of a problem.
Your car already gives your mechanic a lot of information when she hooks it up to the onboard diagnostics. But imagine the improvement in performance and safety if that data were sent automatically, in real time. It’s already happening in some vehicles, allowing for enhanced safety features through tracking and emergency response services.
Improve the Literal Journey
We don’t expect everyone to emulate Disney, but the company does provide an excellent example of how to deploy IoT developments to improve the customer journey – in this case, the literal journey.
Walt Disney World guests can opt for a MagicBand. Worn around the wrist, it allows guests to easily navigate the park, restaurants – even unlock their hotel room if it’s on Disney property. Moreover, if the guests choose, they can link a credit card and use their MagicBands for purchases in the Disney World properties. As Adam Clark Estes explains in Gizmodo:
“That’s creepy, but quite frankly, MagicBands are convenient as hell. You can schedule times to use your FastPass ride picks weeks ahead of visiting the park and then just show up and tap the bracelet on the Touch Point at the ride to skip the line. You can buy stuffed Mickey Mouse dolls, with a MagicBand tap and a PIN code. You can get your picture taken in front of Cinderella’s castle, and then tap your magical bracelet to send the photo to your MyMagic+ app.”
The balance between creepy and convenient can be difficult to strike. Consider the convenience of the Disney band compared to what you might call the creepy Three Square Market approach: Chipping its employees. This isn’t a customer experience, of course, and we’re confident any customer experience (CX) pro on your team would keep the balance on the side of convenience (or magic) and not cross into creepy.
Better Data Means Better Experiences
Gathering data from IoT-enabled products lets you analyze and improve customer experiences continuously – often, automatically.
“Businesses and organizations will get closer to their customers and understand their needs with enhanced customer service and experience at all levels, at all times. This will be possible with more accurate data collected by sensors in IoT solutions and processed by Big Data analytics tools from the time they consider the product or service until the cycle of sales repeats itself. That will translate to an increase in revenue and better use of company resources,” says IoT expert Ahmed Banafa of San José State University, among those featured in SAP’s Insights on the Future of the Internet of Things.
Achieving this level of service demands collaboration across the enterprise, especially between CIOs and CX professionals who must work together to offer the strongest customer experience.
In fact, that’s the gist of a recent Forrester report, Boost CX Quality By Using IoT In Customer Journeys.
CX professionals must partner with their colleagues in product engineering, marketing, operations, support, and tech to shape each customer’s journey and experiences. But it doesn’t stop there: They’ll need to partner with others across the business – in product engineering, marketing, operations, support, and tech – to shape that customer’s journey and experiences. From the introduction to the report:
"Customer expectations for high-quality touches are expanding beyond the mobile and web realms. Internet-of-things (IoT) technology offers new capabilities to sense and control physical products and real-world experiences. So, CIOs and customer experience (CX) pros need each other’s help to weave relevant context and control available from IoT sources into customer journeys. "
If your team is ready to leverage its technology and CX capabilities to make your customers even happier, our team can help. As you can see, Internet of Things application examples abound. We’ll work with you to find the ones that best meet your needs.
Our in-house team is equipped to handle every aspect of your IoT app development project, including back-end engineering, hardware prototyping and, front-end design. Learn more about Internet of Things technologies by downloading our Guide to IoT Development: What You Need to Know, From Frameworks to Best Practices.