In 2014, the Internet of Things (IoT) made the transition from nerdy esotericism to global phenomenon. It is especially desirable to manufacturing companies that want to connect their products and add new services. With the technology, companies can streamline internal processes, differentiate offerings, generate new revenues, or enhance customer experience. It’s no surprise that these companies can see the business potential. But to achieve success in the long term, they have to understand that IoT is not chiefly a technical enhancement, but an organizational one; the products don’t only have to change, the whole company does.
In this four-part series Robert Brunbäck, CMO at Telenor Connexion, describes why and how IoT is an issue of competence that cuts across a company’s entire organization, and what a company should bear in mind in order to enter into the ‘connected’ world. Each installment focuses on one of these four main divisions of a company, Information Technology (IT), Business Development, Sales & Marketing, and Customer Support, and how IoT is revolutionizing each.
Part Four – Customer Support
One of the benefits of connected products is their ability to diagnose and remedy their own issues. With a conventional product, the first indication that something is wrong is often when the product simply stops working. The result is waiting; waiting for the product to be repaired, waiting for a spare part to arrive, or waiting to purchase a completely new product. A connected product can eliminate this issue itself by monitoring its own functions and contacting technical support itself if required. If it seems likely that something will need to be replaced, the product itself can order the spare part. The matter of waiting is eliminated.
Service is more important
The automation of troubleshooting and updates doesn’t mean that the need for personal service disappears. In a connected world, the product is the beginning of the customer relationship. Customer support then becomes even more crucial to your business than it was in the pre-connected world.
With fewer complaints caused by inoperative products, customer support can focus on creating satisfied, loyal users and the resulting new business that they can bring. Long waiting times and the standard responses of traditional customer support are no longer satisfactory. An individualized, full-service model is needed. More than anything, this requires that those working in customer support have an in-depth understanding and knowledge of your company’s offerings and of each customer’s specific needs.
Amazon has a perfect example of this evolution of customer support. Its latest tablet, the Kindle Fire, has a ‘Mayday Button’ that can be used for customer support relating to any question whatsoever. If a user presses this button, he or she is guaranteed personal service via a video call within fifteen seconds! The service is available around-the-clock, every day of the year. It’s also free.
It’s all about user value
Amazon’s Mayday Button underlines one central fact: the future of customer support needs to focus on user value. Despite its name, the Internet of things is not about the connected ’things’ themselves. It is about using the technology to create as much value as possible for the user. This must be done on the customer’s terms. Sometimes, the way forward is through completely automated processes without any human involvement. But more often, the best way combines the innovation of people with the intelligence of machines in a new way.
Products are getting smarter. Companies that understand how smart products can be used to make a user’s life easier will be tomorrow’s winners. But a company cannot change itself. The task falls to you and to other people in your organization. Whatever division you work in – be it Customer Support, Sales & Marketing, Business Development, or whatever else – you need to be aware of the promise that IoT brings to your user, your company, and your society.