No company is immune to the impact of delivering a poor customer experience. If you aren’t motivated to listen to your customers, meet their demands, exceed their expectations and deliver consistent, quality customer service, you will risk losing your loyal customers, potential customers, your profits, your reputation and even your employees.
These harsh realities have led to the rise of what is known as the customer-centric organisation. Customer-centric organisations anticipate future needs by looking at behavioural patterns, market trends and leveraging data from both outside and inside their organisations. They provide unique, memorable experiences that are seamless across all of the possible interaction channels: voice, email, web chat, fax, SMS/IM, social media, and self service. And, most importantly, customer-centric organisations define themselves not by the products they make and sell, but by the customers they serve, the customer problems they solve and the quality customer experience they deliver.
This poses a significant challenge for businesses striving to be customer-centric. They need customer experience solutions that empower their customers with flexible communication methods anytime, anywhere, and allow customers to serve themselves. They need unified communications abilities that break down the silos associated with the traditional contact centre and provide faultless experiences across the organisation, from the 7% of employees that typically associate as agents working in a contact centre, to the 93% of employees that don’t self-identify with being part of a contact centre, yet continually interact with customers (like sales, marketing, finance, and operations personnel).
However, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated the ability to monitor, measure, and manage customer experience and product use, driving momentous change in the way businesses interact with customers.
Did you know? The number one user of the Internet hasn’t been humans; it’s been “things”—Internet-enabled electronics, sensors, and software. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of objects that can be sensed, monitored, and controlled remotely across network infrastructure.
Gartner forecasts 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and that this number will reach 25 billion by 2020.
To truly understand the possibilities for the IoT and customer-centric organisations, let’s imagine: the connected car. Having an Internet-enabled car is one thing, but the customer experience benefits of a connected car far surpass being able to tap into the Internet for access to cloud-based music services or maps and navigation technology. Using sensors installed in cars, drivers can now proactively monitor almost everything in the car, from the engine, to lights, to tire pressure—and then receive warnings and notifications in the event the car needs parts or maintenance.
As well as improving the customer experience by saving drivers from being stranded in the middle of nowhere dealing with car troubles, it also allows car companies to collect user and performance data from vehicles that can be funnelled back into the design of future vehicles to improve usability and performance. Therefore, even though the Internet of things improves the customer experience now, it also has a significant impact on improving it in the future.
The Internet of things once seemed like a buzzword that people had a hard time making sense of, but its effects on our day-to-day lives is now more noticeable than ever. Whether customers benefit from trusting that internet-connected ATMs and soda machines are always well stocked, to receiving proactive notifications that a car needs maintenance, to tracking the shipping of products purchased online, it is clear the Internet of things can have serious impacts on customer experience.
As companies continue to strive to be more customer-centric, one thing is clear—the companies that embrace the Internet of things to build and maintain quality customer relationships will be the companies that discover new opportunities, differentiate themselves from their competitors, and keep the most satisfied customers.