Posted January 4, 2017
Guest post by Mary Wardley, Vice President, Customer Experience: Customer Service and Contact Center Solutions, IDC
IoT initiatives are on the rise. As organizations embrace this game-changing technology, it continues to impact their ability to compete effectively in a digital world. Indeed, nearly a third of respondents to IDC’s 2016 Global IoT Decision Maker Survey say they have launched IoT deployments in the last 12 months, with an additional 43% planning to deploy IoT projects in the next 12 months.
So what’s driving the increasing business adoption of IoT initiatives?
IDC’s research identifies lower operational costs (39%) as the top internal reason organizations are driving the implementation of self-informing devices. Hot on its heels is the top external driver: better customer service and support (38%).
It’s not hard to understand how IoT benefits customers. Self-informing connected devices can monitor a device’s performance and proactively communicate with service and support to:
- Report performance issues (overheating, out of ink, etc.)
- Receive upgrades and automatic updates
- Ongoing monitoring
As a practical matter, organizations now face a growing need to troubleshoot IoT consumer devices – and to prepare their support teams for servicing the IoT-connected consumer. Forward-thinking companies will reach for this huge opportunity to differentiate themselves through superior customer support and service.
Achieving the goal of proactively providing quality service means hiring and training team members to address the unique needs of the connected consumer. To do that, companies need to broaden their organizational perspective to cater to the employee experience, as well as the customer experience. The two are interdependent in an IoT world.
In our previous blog post, we touched upon the relationship between the customer and the so-called “employee experience.” While the goal of customer experience, according to IDC, is “to create an orchestration of internal business processes that create a flow that is planned and architected to meet the needs of the customer,” the role of the employee is critical in the delivery of that experience.
Employee experience does not just include the point at which the customer becomes engaged with the company representative; it spans the entire life cycle of the employee within the organization, after they join the company.
It is intertwined with the customer experience process flow. Put another way, the relationship between employee and customer experience is similar to a Mobius strip, where the employee experience is on one side of the strip and customer experience is on the other. Companies need to have a complete customer experience strategy designed to meet the needs of the customer, but that strategy needs to be supported by an employee experience in which the employees are recruited, hired, and trained to execute on meeting those needs.
Going forward, a key organizational challenge lies in defining and training for the right service skills. Successful IoT agents will need to possess:
- Technical acumen: Understanding the device, its environment, technical and connected elements such as hardware/software, and applying diagnostics to troubleshoot/solve problems
- Personality traits: Independent thinking, problem solving, case management, and the ability to cope with unusual contexts
Businesses will need to start recruiting agents from a different population – one more highly educated and technically-trained — to meet this profile. But they will also need to increase focus on better managing and training, while optimizing talent in their own organizations. Ongoing skills assessments related to professional development, and rewards for such things as providing continuity of service or IP maintenance, will drive increased retention – and ensure employees are engaged and motivated.
Employee satisfaction and experience positively impacts productivity and retention levels, and ultimately, the customer experience, driving top-line growth for companies that demonstrate a respect and care for their team members (read about the Culture Value Chain). This is true for all industries, but particularly in the complex world of IoT.
Delivering the highest level of customer service will require organizations to transform their workplace and business processes to create engaging and immersive experiences for their customers, but also for their employees. Companies that can do both will be among those that thrive in the IoT Age.