Small Business Trends

The Benefits of IoT in Customer Support

By | 5 min read | Published ; Updated on

The internet of things (IoT) is one tool that can help you adapt your customer service strategy to the rise of the machine customers and evolving customer expectations.

Customers are changing the way they shop and relying on new and different technology to make their purchases. This changes how customers expect to interact with your small business, which means your business needs to change how it interacts with customers.

Customers are getting increasingly comfortable with smart technology such as virtual private assistants (VPAs), and Gartner predicts that these technologies will increasingly perform customer service interactions on behalf of human customers[1].

In fact, Gartner anticipates that 37% of customers will try to use a digital assistant to interact with a business’s customer service on their behalf by 2025[2].

This rise in the “machine customer” will transform customer service.

What is a machine customer?

Machine customers are nonhuman economic actors that can participate in the exchange of payment for goods and services on behalf of their human counterparts.

In customer service specifically, machine customers are technologies and bots that can interact with customer service on behalf of human customers.

While bots, VPAs, and smart devices make the lives of their humans much easier, these machine customers can complicate your business’s current customer service setup.

IoT technology can help.

What is IoT?

The internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate, sense, or interact with their internal states or the external environment.

IoT is not just one technology: It refers to an ecosystem of connected devices. Smart home thermostats, smart refrigerators, smart watches, fitness trackers, smart door locks, and smart security systems are all examples of IoT technology you may have already have in your home or business.

The services and goods your business offers may already be IoT enabled and part of this connected network of devices. If so, consider how this IoT can be applied to customer service and how it might assist machine customers.

How will you know when you get a request from a machine customer versus a human customer? How will you differentiate between them, if at all?

Is your existing customer service technology (e.g., chatbots, forms) compatible with machine customers? How is the customer experience for machine customers different from that of human customers? What do you think might be the most common reasons for machine customers to reach out to customer service?

Thinking about these questions will help you prepare for the rise of machine customers and consider how IoT technology could assist your business.

How IoT can improve customer service

The benefits of IoT can be applied to customer service to help accommodate the evolving expectations of customers and the rise of the machine customer.

Offer predictive customer service for a low-effort experience

If a product is IoT enabled, it can send a signal to customer service when something goes wrong, offering customers a predictive, low-effort experience.

For example, a smart refrigerator could be designed to detect leaks, schedule repairs, detect harmful bacteria in ice, alert the people using it that food is about to expire, reorder food that is out, and indicate when filters need to be replaced[3].

This type of low-effort experience that predictive services offer is also one that offers value to customers. Adding value to the customer experience leads to greater customer loyalty.

Improve business offerings by using the data collected by IoT

The data IoT devices collect can provide your business with valuable insights into customer behavior. These devices can track patterns, such as preferred goods and services, goods and services with the lowest customer approval, and when customers are most often buying goods and services.

This data can then be used to improve your business’s offerings and revamp marketing strategies to enhance the customer experience.

For example, retailers can improve stock management by using IoT insights to see ahead of time when they will need to restock.

Remember, IoT isn’t just one technology, and these technologies can be used in tandem. A retailer could use IoT for both stock management and improving individual products to add even more value to the customer experience.

From the data collected by IoT devices, you can also improve the customer experience by offering a more personalized experience. You can help customer service employees troubleshoot issues or help the sales team know when and how to suggest new services based on customer behavior and data collected from IoT.

Mitigate security risks of using IoT

While using IoT offers many benefits to boosting your customer service strategy, this technology also poses risks you should consider when deciding on whether to invest.

IoT technologies are vulnerable to security attacks, due to their interconnected nature. Almost 20% of organizations detected an IoT-based attack between 2015 and 2018, and these vulnerabilities will continue into the 2020s[4].

You can mitigate these risks by having a robust cybersecurity plan in place that starts in the selection stage. When researching IoT devices, pay attention to their cybersecurity reputation. Once you invest in third-party technology, you’ll be letting them into your business and potentially exposing your data. Make sure they have security certificates and their own security measures in place.

How software can help

IoT technology can help you meet the evolving expectations of human customers by making it easier to handle requests from machine customers. By using IoT in customer service, you can offer predictive customer service and collect data that can be used to improve how your customer service team operates.

Software can help.

IoT analytics software can help you analyze historical data, predict future outcomes, and provide predictive maintenance services. Network security software can also help you strengthen cybersecurity around IoT devices to help mitigate security risks. If you’re interested in adopting IoT into your business strategy, consider checking out Capterra’s catalogs of IoT software.


Sources

  1. The Gartner Key Trends Shaping the Future of Customer Service and Support, Gartner
  2. The Future of Customer Service: 5 Emerging Trends To Watch, Gartner
  3. How the Internet of Things is Changing Customer Service, Boomtown
  4. 2019 Planning Guide for the Internet of Things, Gartner

Looking for Customer Service software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Service software solutions.

About the Author

Toby Cox

Toby Cox

Senior Content Writer @ Capterra covering software trends and stories of small business resilience. B.A. in Foreign Affairs and Middle Eastern Languages from the University of Virginia. Beekeeper and bookworm. Virginia native. I love yoga, getting lost in new places, and being outside.

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Comments

Comment by OK Connett on

Yes I suppose sensors that tell us or send signals when certain things aren’t functioning properly or need to be cleaned or repaired might be a good thing. However, like the candle example in the article… I immediately asked myself how many people are really going to leave their cell phone by the candle? Think about it, most the time you can’t separate a cell phone from its owner in bed, in the tub, while driving or on a date!

So that makes me think that in the future if we’ve created all of these little sensors alerting the client or customer to what’s going wrong, will it be useful or will it be an annoyance? example; (animated voice) Mr. Jones your ice trays only half full. Does anybody really care? Any how do we determine which will be useful vs annoying?

I think there may be a small percentage of things that could be useful… but it’s the journey that’s going to be difficult, and expensive.
How often do people today remove the buzzers from their seatbelt because it’s annoying even when its the law and a vital safety feature!
My vote is… minor impact.
To be perfectly honestly… I believe that customer support is really about the human factor, the ability and desire to provide the correct answer. The best companies prize quality, resourcefulness and empathy towards the client versus how many calls can be done and tallied statistically.

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