How IoT is Changing Customer Service

January 8, 2015 Appirio

By Carl Krupitzer, ThingLogix


The “Internet of Things” (or IoT for short) is not only changing the way we interact with our devices, but also the way that customer service departments help customers troubleshoot issues. For instance, when your smart TV or phone has a software update available to fix a bug or other enhanced functionality, these devices can download the software wirelessly, often automatically or with just a few clicks.

ABIResearch predicts that by 2020, there will be over 30 billion wirelessly connected devices on the market worldwide. That’s a whole lot of smart watches, thermostats, phones, television sets, and countless other products that haven’t been developed yet.

The ideal customer service experience is when the customer never has to call to complain about a computer that won’t power on, or a fridge that doesn’t keep things cold. IoT-based solutions can help alert the customer of a potential problem before it even happens, or help them solve the problem themselves, empowering the consumer and lowering the company’s customer service costs in the process.

Here are a few case studies of companies that are using and IoT to improve customer service:

  • A manufacturer of industrial cleaning equipment and chemicals has a customer with 300 locations. As part of the installation contract, the manufacturer provides four maintenance visits per location per year. That’s 1,200 visits by repair technicians for one customer to check on equipment that may not even need to be serviced. When there is a failure, the response is a reaction to a breakage usually resulting in an outage. By connecting those machines and analyzing the sensor data across the entire device population, the manufacturer can spot trends in the data that predict when a failure will take place and service the machine in advance of an outage. As an added benefit, they are able to now benchmark water usage and cleaning processes to  deliver newfound insights to their customers.
  • An auto-shipping company that provides relocation services uses leased transportation as well as their own fleet vehicles, changing car haulers several times during each vehicle’s journey. As a customer, tracking the progress of the vehicle required phone calls and manual processes on the part of the shipping company. However, the auto shipping company developed a tracking device that is placed in the vehicle at pick-up and updates every hour when the vehicle is off and continuously when the vehicle is on. This device allows the shipping company to track locations in their Salesforce dashboard, to publish the vehicle location to the customer on a regular basis, and to provide in-transit repairs on vehicles that transmit problem code. The result has been a 60 percent decrease in call center volume and a significant increase in customer satisfaction.
  • Multi-tenant commercial buildings typically split water billing and usage evenly between tenants. If there’s a leak in a single unit, everyone pays. As water consumption becomes more critical in drought stricken areas of the country, municipalities are legislating that submetering and usage be monitored more closely. A company in Atlanta has developed a smart meter and a service which accurately submeters water usage, provides billing services, leak detection and automatically shuts off water remotely as needed.

These are just a few examples of how IoT is poised to revolutionize customer service. Whenever you can fix a device remotely, prevent a customer service call altogether, or provide new insights that help your business customers with their own companies, you’ll gain happier, more loyal customers.

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