In today’s world, customer experience is the only real differentiator between a company and its competitors. Dissatisfied customers will not just leave, they’ll tell their friends and entire social networks about it too. Brand trust is essential for increasing engagement numbers and turning your occasional customer into a long-term and loyal one.
As I’ve written about before, the internet of things brings massive opportunity to engage consumers and deliver a great customer experience. But there’s another form of IoT that’s gaining market traction: the industrial internet of things.
According to a study by Statista, global IoT spending for the industrial manufacturing industry is predicted to reach $890 billion by 2020. Industrial manufacturing impacts industries such as manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, agriculture, automotive and industrial markets. While the difference between consumer IoT and IIoT mainly lies in the types of devices and applications, the technologies that power them and their purpose, in the end, are all IoT and there’s as many overlaps as there are differences.
As the IIoT market continues to grow, customer experience needs to be top of mind. One of the biggest concerns with IIoT adoption occurs during the initial setup process. Since IIoT is specific to industrial use cases, the common IoT adoption challenges are similar across the board with a large focus on three core areas, all of which have huge impacts on the customer experience:
- Compatibility or integration: Many companies are working with older systems that can be costly to upgrade or replace. The implementation of IoT technology can get complicated when trying to set up these old systems with new ones. If customers can’t set up or use the device, they’ll likely become frustrated, which leads to poor customer experiences.
- Security: According to a recent IEEE survey, security is the top concern for companies looking to adopt IoT technology. Addressing security in the IoT realm requires a multifaceted approach, and one that often requires human support. If information is hacked or leaked, it’s important companies are reassured manufacturers are doing everything they can to keep their information safe. Nothing erodes trust quite like security concerns.
- Lack of data understanding: A lack of knowledge by untrained users can be challenging when operating sophisticated IoT sensors. Training on how best to utilize this rich data is the most beneficial offering a customer support team can provide.
Additionally, a poor integration strategy or severe service interruption can lead to larger, longer term effects for the company. Take Tesla’s “thinking” algorithms, for example. They help run the company’s autopilot software, enabling Tesla vehicles limited levels of autonomous driving capability. These algorithms sync with other sensors and systems throughout the car to provide a holistic view. If something goes down with another part of the car, the sensors track it and send this information to the autopilot software, notifying the driver that it’s time to step in.
While this may all seem fairly straightforward, like any device, sensors can go down. When that happens, it’s important that the driver feels safe and reassured. This is where a human element in customer care offers value for both parties. The customer support operator, using the data available through the car’s IoT sensors and neighboring devices, offers real-time insight and assistance for the best support. The operator can jump in immediately with access to an up-to-date driver profile, easing the driver’s concerns through a personalized approach.
However, while some companies are making strides in providing a seamless IIoT experience, concerns around the overall customer experience have been challenged. According to survey by Statista, 55% of its respondents said that the biggest challenge in slowing down IoT adoption is understanding the technology.
To combat this, customer experience teams need to be prepared to support IIoT in many ways, including:
- On-demand assistance: In-the-moment customer support and IIoT sensors offer little communication error due to real-time analytics feeding the support agent live information. Agents can offer deep insight with short turnaround time, offering the best support when working on industrial sized concerns.
For example, Nest’s smart thermostat technology provides the ability to control temperatures in the home. In an industrial setting, this technology is useful for maintaining consistency among offices and larger campus settings. The technology’s ability to self-adjust and optimize energy efficiently offers customers flexibility and ease of use. Partnered with a live customer support agent, the setup process is user-friendly and requires minimal training for in-house commercial use.
- Predictive maintenance support: IIoT sensors track maintenance concerns and examine historical records to map product functionality. Back in 2016, AirAsia turned to IoT to reduce its ecological footprint while also boosting its own savings. By partnering with GE for its Flight Efficiency Services, the company reduced fuel use and saved money. This technology helped the airline follow precise navigation routes and analyze flight data to optimize aircraft utilization.
IoT goes a step further, equipping airlines and their ecosystem partners with the potential to turn sunken costs into drivers of incremental revenue. From curb to gate to destination, networks of sensors have the power to gather data, interpret it and trigger actions that could increase revenue while improving the overall passenger experience. Having a live-agent support team to work in parallel with this technology gives its users the ability to operate more efficiently and get ahead of any troubleshooting downtime.
- Better accountability: Utilizing a blend of human engagement with the data provided from IIoT sensors offers businesses a true look into product challenges and successes.
AT&T, one of the world’s largest telecom providers, helps its mobile users gain access to real-time information about city services and traffic issues by using the data collected across a variety of connected devices from streetlights to utility meters. Adding in customer support teams provides mobile users with another layer of defense should anything go down. This also provides utility organizations an opportunity to gain valuable insight to what applications are most necessary for integration success. Support teams are able to offer regional feedback on unforeseen issues and ultimately provide the organization with a chance to prioritize for customer needs and product shortcomings.
As IIoT continues to grow, companies need to use the data at hand and equip their CX teams with that information to provide the best customer experience. Rather than avoiding IIoT adoption to prevent customer challenges, businesses should embrace these concerns by using customer support to correct them. Customers want more ways to contact a company, faster resolutions and more personal interactions. In return, they will stay loyal and promote the trust they have in a brand.
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