Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

IoT's impact on customer support

Every day, more and more objects that make up our everyday lives have some sort of network connection; from coffee makers to security cameras, from air quality sensors to connected cars, there isn’t a single area of our life that won’t be touched by IoT devices in the next decade. In fact, IHS predicts there will be 75.4 billion connected devices by 2025.

Beyond IoT’s impact on products, it is also helping organizations develop stronger relationships with their customers. With IoT in place, companies can build incredibly detailed profiles — not just of customer segments, but of individuals by learning their name, preferences and habits so they can make relevant recommendations. In return, customers are getting a far more personalized experience than ever before. This new level of personalization is a welcome experience for consumers as it allows them to live a more connected, informed and controlled life. Consequently, it also opens security concerns and troubleshooting issues, leaving customer support teams on the frontline for handling such problems.

IoT and security

The sheer amount of data that IoT devices can generate is staggering. A Federal Trade Commission report titled “Internet of Things: Privacy & Security in a Connected World” found that fewer than 10,000 households can generate 150 million discrete data points every day. This creates more entry points for hackers and leaves sensitive information vulnerable.

As a result, there’s huge anxiety that comes with IoT, but most consumers won’t forgo using these connected devices. It’s up to the brands and support departments to help and reassure their customers that it can be done in a safe and private way, and in their full control.

Brands should inform their customers on the steps they are taking to keep them safe and the precautions they can take themselves. Simple things like making sure passwords are strong and patches are up to date can help establish trust between the brand and customer. Transparency is also essential. The more companies are open with their customers, the further they will trust the brand for keeping their information safe.

However, the expertise and time required to successfully train customer support teams can be immense, and often difficult to provide in-house. As a result, many fast-growing companies outsource trust and safety operations to a partner company, allowing them to focus on core competencies.

Too many choices

IoT products are getting incredibly powerful, with numerous features incorporated into a single product. As a result, there’s more interplay between how these products work together and the choices we make about what we can do with them.

Take a company like Nest Labs, for example. The cameras can be set to be off when people are in the house, and when they leave, their phone’s and system’s geofencing functions know to turn the cameras back on. These choices can get increasingly complicated because they need to program which family members can have control of these settings, who can see the cameras, who can change the parameters of the product, who can change the temperature and to what extent. Consumers want total control and all these choices, but it can also overwhelm them because it’s probably more choices than they want.

Because of this, they’ll experience challenges and issues, and they’ll call customer support to ask why this is happening or why it’s broken. Chances are it’s not broken; it’s just a toggle switch they had on or off and didn’t know they could change.

Companies need to get a better understanding of how their technology transforms customer expectations and develop a plan to either modify the product or help customers understand it. Customer service agents are typically the first point of contact for users, so they have unparalleled insight into the challenges they face. Brands should use their customer support teams to understand the challenges consumers are facing with their products and arm them with the right information to educate them about the products.

If companies don’t have the right infrastructure to support education and user feedback, retaining customers will become a problem. This is one reason why scale-up companies turn to an outsourcing partner to handle their product expertise and customer insights initiatives. The insights that feedback through product support teams is highly valuable to product design and build teams.

Using customer support for IoT success

As IoT continues to grow, it’s vital for companies to have a strong customer service team to support customers throughout this journey. Whether that’s helping them understand security measures and precautions or troubleshooting a toggle on/off switch, the companies that provide strong customer support and experience will be the ones who ultimately reap the most benefits out of the lucrative IoT market.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.