IoT Technology Has Huge CX Potential

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Customers increasingly expect enhanced experiences in the physical world, and for many, that means that companies should be able to tap into the Internet of Things (IoT) to sense and transform those experiences, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

“Whether it’s consumer or enterprise, people’s expectations are increasingly that companies should have visibility into what’s going on [in the real world],” explains Frank Gillett, a Forrester vice president and principal analyst serving information professionals. “[There’s] definitely a shift in expectations and experiences based on the increasingly amazing things you can do with your smartphone. People don’t always realize what hidden magic is going on under the covers, so they’re just assuming and expecting even more magic to extend beyond the phone.”

The report identifies four key ways that IoT technology can benefit customers: monitoring and improving experiences with company offerings; personalizing each situation for the customer; automatically improving and learning over time via updates to products and services; and reinventing product access and purchase.

In terms of monitoring and improving experiences, the report notes that customers attending a Red Sox baseball game at Boston’s Fenway Park, for example, might expect the venue to be able to provide seat-based food delivery and automatic updates on when the lines at beer stands are short. Similarly, users of iRobot’s Wi-Fi-enabled Roomba robot vacuum today expect customer service reps to know their vacuum’s status and battery cycle count when they contact the company with a problem.

As for personalization, the report asserts that customers expect experiences to be regularly refined to their particular needs based on real-world context. As an example, the report cites Schneider Electric’s smart commercial electrical panels, which monitor energy use and deliver custom notifications to customers and service technicians based on their needs.

With regard to product and service updates, the report says IoT data can provide valuable insights on how companies can improve their offerings. One company mentioned in the report is electric car manufacturer Tesla. The company in late 2016 introduced the hardware needed to operate its Autopilot 2.0 self-driving system in all its vehicles, but it has been slow to roll out the software needed to make self-driving Tesla cars a reality. Tesla drivers have been very vocal in their criticism of the company’s progress on that front, and Tesla listened and is now rebuilding all of its Autopilot features on a new architecture powered by neural net and computer vision technology. Tesla CEO Elon Musk now says the new Autopilot update is in final testing.

As for reinventing product access and purchase, companies are using the IoT to offer their products and services in new ways, according to the report. The report cites smart bike sharing platform Mobike, which offers dockless, cash-free bike sharing, as an example.

But these are not the only ways that the IoT is shaping consumer-company interactions. A new class of software, called customer journey analytics platforms, is emerging that enables customer experience (CX) professionals to analyze, plan, test, and automate customer journeys. The report asserts that these customer journey analytics platforms—offered by companies such as Adobe, NICE, and Teradata—are the best place for organizations to integrate new IoT data and control options.

“Their primary purpose is not in fact Internet of Things. They were designed to help collect and organize information from…existing business applications or digital systems,” Gillett explains. These include all of an organization’s CRM applications, website interactions, mobile app interactions, and even interactions with third parties, as part of their ongoing relationship with the company.

“However, what we’re arguing in this report is that those journey analytics platforms, because they integrate all this different digital interaction into a complete view, are going to be an important place for customer experience professionals, those responsible for assessing and improving customer journeys…to integrate this new class of information [from IoT devices],” he concludes. 

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