Today’s most innovative and successful companies understand that their product or service is no longer the only key differentiator over competitors. Quality of the customer experience, enhanced by emerging technologies such as IoT that can delight customers, is increasingly impacting consumers’ decisions to engage with brands. With a blended technology and channel approach to customer experience, brands can build the trust, loyalty and lifetime customer value required to stay relevant and competitive.
The importance of customer experience is not lost on businesses – proven by Dimension Data, in its 2017 Global Customer Experience (CX) Benchmarking Report, which found that 71 percent of organizations see customer experience as a key differentiator, and, as a result, more of them are starting to invest heavily in this now-critical function.
As businesses invest more in their customer experience, they’re evaluating technologies that can improve, automate and enhance their strategies and customer interactions. One of these emerging technologies that is helping brands create a stronger customer experience is the Internet of Things (IoT). By coming together with strong partners and IoT, brands can identify and create new opportunities to excel in their industry and competitive landscape.
IoT refers to Internet-connected devices such as wearables and smart home appliances – basically things that we use multiple times in our daily routines. When consumers use IoT devices, brands can collect vast amounts of data on how people use and interact with their products. This data unlocks the ability to build far deeper, mutually beneficial relationships between a company and customer, as the brand can better understand the consumer in ways it wasn’t able to before leveraging IoT. For customer experience, this type of data-driven contextual business-to-consumer relationship is the new frontier.
IoT’s role in optimizing the customer experience is manifold, there are five key areas that best show the power of this technology at work.
1. Prediction: The more a person uses an IoT-enabled product, the more that product learns about their behavior, thereby allowing certain predictions to be made. For example, a Tesla automobile can accurately predict how long the battery is going to last, based on what it has learned about its owner’s style of driving. Tesla can then proactively alert the customer to when they will need to recharge their battery, so they can plan their trip accordingly.
2. Insight: IoT gives people insight into their own behavior, which allows them to make better decisions. Google Nest, for instance, gives homeowners incredibly detailed, real-time information on their energy use, empowering them to optimize it and become more cost efficient as a result. This data, in turn, helps Google Home keep innovating and building better products. It also helps Google customize all customer interactions, offering solutions or advice based on the user’s personal experience with Google Nest.
3. Personalization: Speaking of personal experiences, in return for receiving more information about customers, brands can vastly improve the experience they provide. Data allows customers to be treated as individuals, not segments. Visitors to Disney World now have the option to wear an IoT-enabled wristband that maps their movements and preferences, allowing Disney to tailor an experience just for them.
4. Community: A highly-personalized experience does not have to be a solo experience. For instance, an athlete can use wearables not only to track their own performance, but also that of their peers, fueling the sense of ambition and competition central to the sporting experience.
5. Humanization: A customer’s relationship with a product used to be one-way, but the features outlined above show how IoT makes it a two-way relationship. IoT-enabled products learn about us, interact with us, and allow us to make better decisions in a way never before seen. Put it another way: they see the human in us. And, in turn, we can see the human behind the product.
The incredible amount of valuable data that IoT unlocks for brands is the technology’s real strength, but it also presents challenges. Namely, how to choose the most relevant information, put it to work in the most valuable way and integrate it with a high-quality user experience. Overcoming these challenges is critical to driving a better customer experience, and fortunately there are ways for business to make data work for them.
Collecting, collating and making sense of big data is a core part of Xavient Digital’s mission, a TELUS International company. This company builds the technology, including IoT, that helps brands deliver a customer experience for the digital age. Xavient Digital’s President and COO, Saif Ahmad, explains that, in the past, the information gathered by companies during a customer contact simply remained in its own silo, creating a series of “fragmented delivery endpoints.”
Using digital CX technology, today’s innovators can connect and analyze this data (including that collected via IoT) and build a highly-detailed profile on every customer – something that Ahmad describes as “aligning the elastic platforms and ubiquitous delivery endpoints in a connected ecosystem that is secure, hyper-personalized, predictive, and algorithmic.”
The result, he explains, is “minimum effort and maximum personalization for the customer,” creating a “concierge feeling where the customer feels like they’re a VIP – not because they’re paying $100 more in subscription fees, but because of the technology backing the customer interface.”
Technology has gradually been breaking down the walls between companies and customers for several years now, but IoT represents a big leap forward. The deep, mutually-beneficial and frictionless relationships that IoT helps to build is currently something that customers appreciate, but very soon it will become something they expect. To stay relevant and successful, brands will need to invest in this technology. Naturally some will question if they can afford to make such an investment, but perhaps a more important question is whether they can afford not to invest.
Aidan O’Shea, CEO of Business Operations at Voxpro – powered by TELUS International
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