Smart home applications, infotainment products and wearables: The consumer market for Internet of Things (IoT) products is booming. According to a survey conducted by the market research institute International Data Corporation (IDC), private households will invest 108 billion US dollars in connected devices in 2019 alone.
The increasing consumer demand for IoT products offers exciting opportunities for companies. A new mass market is currently emerging before our very eyes, meeting the demands of millions of potential new customers. Welcome to the age of the Internet of Things!
Before you go any further: In this blog post, we introduce you to the ABCs of customer service outsourcing. Perhaps you’d like to take a look before we delve a little deeper into the topic of customer service for IoT products.
The IoT Presents Customer Service with New Challenges
It goes without saying that organizations that want to survive in this new competitive market must first and foremost develop innovative products that meet customers’ demands for connectivity and the seamless, intelligent control of their devices. However, as the degree of technical complexity rises, a product’s WOW factor doesn’t automatically increase from a customer’s point of view just by the sheet amount of new features.
This is also due to the fact that IoT connected products are currently crossing the consumer threshold: the era of the early adopters is coming to an end. This is fantastic news for development and sales. For customer service, however, it poses a number of new challenges.
The IoT ecosystem as a compatibility jungle
The boom in the number of devices means that customers are suddenly confronted with the interplay of products and services from different providers for individual applications. For example, an intelligent thermostat must be connected to the Wi-Fi router and be controlled with an app on a smartphone, tablet or desktop PC.
Customers expect the new technology to work together seamlessly. If a problem arises, though, the customer will quickly become frustrated. From the customer’s perspective, it is usually not immediately obvious which product is to blame for the predicament. The result: a negative customer experience that can also have a detrimental effect on your products.
For many customers, IoT devices are like goody bags
Many customers do not even realize the numerous possibilities that IoT devices open up in practice. As an example, IDC analysts concluded that only one-third of consumers exploit the full potential of IoT products in the multimedia sector. This lack of knowledge about the capabilities of an IoT application on the part of the customer ultimately means that during the development of a device or service financial resources are invested into functions that are unable to deliver their full value for the customer.
The need for data protection and security is growing
In order to use IoT devices, customers often need to create new accounts to store personal information. To ensure the software interacts seamlessly, approvals and access permissions must be granted on different devices. At the same time, cyber attacks and new forms of digital crime are generating increasing amounts of uncertainty on a daily basis. A study by the Internet Society highlights this very well:
- 75% of people distrust the way data is shared
- 63% of people find connected devices ‘creepy’
- 50% of people know how to disable data collection
- 28% of people who do not own a smart device will not buy one due to security concerns
How IoT Providers Can Impress with Customer Service
The conclusion to be drawn from these challenges can only be as follows: customer service must redefine its role in the age of the Internet of Things. In fact, this step should be seen as an opportunity to improve the customer experience. After all, good IoT customer service is increasingly becoming a decisive differentiating factor for customers when evaluating products and services. Against this backdrop, innovative IoT providers can significantly improve their position in the market by providing strategically intelligent customer service. In essence, this means that IoT providers should tailor their customer service to the specific needs of their customers.
Human help complements guides, forums and FAQs
Online help centers packed with guides, forums and FAQs have often proven their worth in recent years, especially for digital products. However, the complexity of IoT applications makes it very difficult for many customers to solve their problems simply by resorting to ready-made information or forum posts. On the one hand, this is due to the complex nature of the problems occurring on IoT applications. On the other hand, IoT products are being increasingly used by customers from a mass market who are more dependent on personal support than the early adopters.
Highly qualified employees
The qualifications of customer service employees for an IoT provider must go beyond specific knowledge of their own products. A qualified call center agent must be able to offer the customer a solution that takes into account the customer’s entire ecosystem of devices, services and support. However, good education and training of contact center and customer service employees alone is not enough. Additional access to extensive knowledge databases, which are regularly maintained and expanded, enables the agent to provide seamless support for a wide range of platforms, including for more complex problems.
When the customer requires support, they should receive transparent and open information about which data is accessed and what measures are taken to protect their data. If more extensive support is required, such as direct technical access to the customer’s devices, this should be communicated and explained in great detail.
Proactive approach and anticipatory support
If disruptions occur, the flow of information is extremely important for the customer. Proactive support approaches customers at an early stage, provides information and then offers solutions. The amount of data generated by IoT-based devices also enables customer support to do more, namely to identify and resolve problems before they even occur. In addition, data can be utilized to suggest additional services to the customer in the event of a support case; services that promise added value in accordance with the customer’s user behavior.
Support is based on the customer journey
The more heterogeneous the customers who demand IoT products become, the more flexible customer support must be in order to meet the varying needs. The entire customer journey associated with the purchase of IoT products is best covered by the support team. This begins with the selection of equipment and services at the time of purchase and extends to the process of setting up and explaining possible uses through to help with problems that have to do with the customer’s ecosystem.
Gain Competitive Advantages Through Outsourcing
From a strategic perspective, customer service is a business process that IoT providers in particular must not neglect. It helps to foster trust in the brand, strengthen customer satisfaction levels and boost loyalty. In a highly competitive market, companies gain advantages if they use their scarce resources to develop innovative products and outsource their customer service to an experienced partner according to the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) model.
Not yet found a suitable partner for your IoT customer service project? B2X offers you proven customer service solutions that are precisely tailored to the complex needs of your customers. Get in touch!