The Internet of Things: Foundation for Effective Customer Service?

Find out how this latest technology buzzword is impacting on the customer experience industry.

There are some words that start popping up more and more within customer experience, such as big data, omni-channel and personalisation, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is the latest buzzword to join that list.

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Broadly speaking, the term refers to the connection of devices (things) that interact with one another without a human touch; they collect data and connect through, for example, sensors or WiFi. As with many technological advances the rapid growth of the capabilities within IoT open up a whole new world for a variety of sectors, including customer service.

Frost & Sullivan consultants even says that IoT is the next step in the evolution of products and technology, presenting "enormous benefits" to customers, businesses and suppliers.

They predict that there will be 50 billion connected devices globally by 2020, and they add that IoT is already spawning device-as-a-service business lines as advantages, including valuable new data streams and an unprecedented level of control over products for customers and suppliers to catch on.

Brendan Read, Customer Contact Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, explained: "IoT is the development and convergence of many communications and computing technologies including, but not limited to analytics, cloud computing, machine-to-machine, remote access, and high-bandwidth wireless applications.

"IoT is a new and dynamic layer that by providing critical information and process management has the potential of enabling increased business growth."

So what can you do to capitilise on IoT within your customer service strategy?

Frost & Sullivan says that to establish IoT in customer service, solution providers and user companies must ensure that IoT systems are highly interoperable without silos, and have secured information and operations.

As a customer service provider you must determine which products or processes need to be connected to the rest of the organisation through IoT. In addition, you have to realistically budget for IoT investments, including infrastructure, customer service, support, analytics, big data and trained staff.

Furthermore, other issues must be foreseen and addressed, including power and cabling, application complexity, multichannel connectivity, data management and privacy. Doing so now, as IoT is taking off rather than when it matures, should help minimise challenges and increase ROI.

Read even went so far as to say that IoT will form the foundation for effective customer service.

"Facilitating highly functional, intuitive, scalable, reliable and secure customer service applications through IoT, will be where the rubber finally meets the road that will get businesses to where they want to go," he concluded.