IoT – The Next Major Channel of Communication

Think back to when new channels came on the scene – email, chat, social. The first response was, “Let’s hook it up and start interacting with customers to differentiate and deliver better customer service.” The result was often the opposite. The service experience was poor and customers were left wanting for more.

Why? Process and organization were an afterthought to technology.

History is repeating itself as the next major channel of communication hits the contact center – the Internet of Things (IoT). Huh? Let me explain.

My dad’s recent solar power experience is telling.

Shortly after my parents moved into their new home, my dad (a pretty technically savvy guy) received an automatically generated email indicating there was an issue with the home’s solar power system. The company followed up with a call and walked him through how to download an app to confirm there was indeed a failure. Turns out there was. The next step was to check the converter box which ended up being the culprit. This all sounds pretty great, right? Problem detected. Customer proactively contacted. Issue confirmed. Has the makings of a great customer experience.

Not so fast…

Like most customers, my dad’s main goal was to have the problem fixed quickly. It wasn’t. It took over three weeks to get the solar power functioning, which means money lost for my pops! Getting a technician to the house took what seemed like forever. The proper replacement parts weren’t readily available. Multiple truck rolls took place. And, ultimately, my dad had to escalate the issue to speed up the resolution process. Put it all together and this “thing” on the Internet that generated a proactive notification and interaction left my dad dissatisfied (even though the technician that came to the house was great – something he wanted me to clarify). Certainly not the desired effect!

To be clear, I LOVE the Internet of Things and absolutely believe that’s where things are, and should be, going. According to Gartner research, by 2020 there will be over 25 billion “things” connected to the Internet.1 And sure, a thing is not really a channel like voice, chat, email, etc. However, these things – at home, on the body, in the car, everywhere – are beginning to generate a boatload of automated and live customer interactions. Thus, while not technically accurate, it seems healthy to think of IoT as the next major channel of communication.

So, what next?

Don’t let history repeat itself. See that process and organizational changes necessary to deliver an amazing customer experience are accounted for, together with technology, when developing and implementing your IoT strategy. Make sure you not only have the ability to detect and engage proactively, but also the ability deliver fast, consistent and differentiated results. Prevent problems from happening in the first place with predictive analytics and automation. Fix problems before customers ever know there’s an issue. If they’re already aware, take immediate action – all the way through resolution – that exceeds expectations. IoT will certainly be raising the bar of expectations. Be ready.

Embrace the IoT channel correctly and folks like my dad will be jumping out of their seats to talk about your brand. They’ll be left wanting more of your products and services instead of better service. That, my friends, is the promise of IoT for business.

Seize the moment!

1 Gartner, “Predicts 2016: CRM Customer Service and Support,” Michael Maoz, Jim Davies, Jenny Sussin, Olive Haung, Brian Manusama, Nov. 17, 2015.



Jason Alley

Jason Alley

Jason Alley is a senior solutions marketing manager for Interactive Intelligence. Since his employment in 2010, Jason has helped Interactive Intelligence develop market requirements and go-to-market strategies for contact center, customer experience, and cloud solutions. Prior to Interactive, he spent ten years consulting with large enterprise contact centers and suppliers for Vanguard Communications, and a company he later founded, SmartContact Consulting. Jason spent the first seven years of his career in sales, marketing, and product management roles working for Aspect, Hipbone, Nortel, and others. Jason received his bachelor’s degree in business economics from UCLA.

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