According to a recent report from customer intelligence consulting firm Walker, customer experience (CX) is expected to overtake price and product as the number one key differentiator of businesses by 2020. Customer expectations are increasing, driven by their growing empowerment, the explosion of digital solutions that provide tailored messaging to each customer, and the acceleration of innovation and new product development. Customers want companies to know their individual needs and personalize their experiences. Immediate resolution will not be fast enough as customers will expect companies to proactively address not just their current needs, but their future needs.
Enter the internet of things.
IoT has the potential to change business models, going from connecting things to automating the customer experience. Out of laundry detergent? Don’t worry. Amazon knew, so it ordered another carton a week ago. While it’s great that IoT was able to help anticipate that consumer’s need, what if they wanted to try a different brand of detergent or needed more than one bottle? The convenience factor of IoT automating the CX has its perks, but is leaving the customer out of the process the right thing to do? IoT could technically meet the needs of the consumer of tomorrow by delivering proactive solutions rather than reactive, and automating customer service, but how far is too far before consumers start to feel uncomfortable being taken out of the process?
Just as people debate whether artificial intelligence will have too much power (taking over and/or automating jobs), IoT may cause much of the same concern in regard to customer interaction with brands. Take this example, for instance:
Imagine someone has installed a connected pool filter that helps monitor when the pH levels need tending to. In that not-so-distant future, sensors may send information directly to a pool maintenance company to dispatch an employee to come out to the site and correct the problem as soon as levels are off. The owner never has to get involved, but is ensured a pool that is always ready to use. But what if the pool owner was referred to a particular vendor by a neighbor they’ve been wanting to try? While some people may like the idea that a pool maintenance worker will just show up to their house, others may want more control.
IoT is encouraging businesses to think about these connections as an opportunity to reimagine their business models and change the way they interact with customers. When it comes to the customer experience, it’s all about striking the right balance. Time will tell how consumers react to the true value of the internet of things, but it’s important to look at both the good and bad to this automation and assess how necessary it is for companies to roll out these potential features.
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