In today’s pervasive wireless world, knowledge, need, and technology has brought forth countless use cases for the Internet of Things, or IoT. IoT can be defined several ways, depending on who you ask. My colleague likes this one from Gartner: ‘A network of physical objects (things) that contain embedded technology to sense or interact with their internal state or external environment. The IoT comprises an ecosystem that includes things, communication, applications and data analyses. Another more practical definition is, when the internet is connected to physical objects, rendering them “smart objects” with the ability to sensor, process, and act upon data. We’ve had objects in our lives connected to a system or company for some time equipped with sensors that provide safety and make us more attentive; fire alarms, smoke detectors, water detection, etc…. But IoT technology and connectedness takes this to the next level by identifying problems and offering solutions or even solving issues before they become problems. IoT has been talked about for a while, but IoT is ready to alter business and customer landscapes. A revolution is taking place and the contact center was built to accept the output from the myriad of IoT devices and deliver services. The marriage of the Internet of Things and the contact center is a match made in heaven, they just have to meet.
IoT sensors talk, who is listening
The Internet of Things has limitless possibilities and is without boundaries. Let’s take a look at some of the key sensors at work around the world including, temperature, proximity, pressure, water/water quality, chemical (a long list of specific chemical detection) smoke, IR, level, image, motion, accelerometer, gyroscope, humidity, optical, and custom.
Temperature sensors come to mind rather quickly, and until a few years ago were only found in A/C controls, refrigerators, and similar environmental controls. IoT has found a new role for these sensors in manufacturing, agriculture, and health care. Manufacturing processes can remain precise, cows can be monitored, or blood supply can be analyzed. Now, a cow can text or email a contact center system when its temperature is too high and route the event to the right farmer/farm, but it could also open a case to alert a vet. What if the refrigerator with 1000 pints of life saving blood is having intermittent issues or someone leaves the door ajar? IoT can analyze the data of that refrigerator, ultimately open a trouble ticket and dispatch a repairman with the knowledge of what is broken or about to break. This repair dispatch can be automated or addressed by a contact center specialist. How the problem was routed and by what, is important and it gets lost in the conversation.
Water quality sensors are used to detect water quality along with Ion monitoring in water distribution systems. There isn’t just one sensor, there is a network of sensors monitoring chemicals (chlorine), solids, conductivity, pH, and oxygen. We’ve all heard about or encountered issues with our water supply from time to time. What if the issue detected is so severe that all customers/users needed to be contacted immediately? This is where a contact center system steps in. Preloaded lists can quickly be put into action to start blasting emails and use IVR/dialer based systems to proactively notify those affected.
A good friend of mine works for a large foreign conglomerate and is selling its newest IoT platform. I asked him who and what acts on the sensor data. He looked puzzled, and was less puzzled after I explained what a contact center can mean to routing this IoT sensor data.
More proactive customer service
IoT will empower smart objects to communicate issues directly to the manufacturer or supplier before a problem actually arises, making customer service more proactive. Companies are already delivering products to the consumer like appliances, locks, door bells with video cameras, and whole home systems. The manufacturer can analyze the data they receive to make better products or issue a recall. Suppliers such as Best Buy can offer packages to monitor appliances and sell packages to their customers.
Specialized experts in the contact center
Contact center agents already have customer service skills and understand the products they service, but the Internet of Things will mandate that they obtain more specialized knowledge. Companies can train these agents for highly specific cases—the malfunction of a household appliance, for example— IoT will demand that they provide solutions to highly technical problems.
Omnichannel, the consumer, and IoT
We all have many options with how we can connect with brands, and IoT could be a test for contact centers at the consumer level. A question I’ve asked… how will an IoT enabled appliance contact Samsung or Best Buy and identify itself as Brent’s refrigerator and how do we bring the consumer into the customer service experience. The contact center is here to solve that! The right contact center solution with the right customer journey module can amplify that consumer experience.
Reporting for better service
Contact center systems are already setup to take in an immense amount of data. IoT objects can produce even more data than the largest contact center sees today. I’m not saying or making the case that contact center systems should capture all the IoT data. However, I do know is that the better contact center platforms in the market utilize open standard database systems. IoT data, along with the contact center data can be mined, parsed, and correlated to provide enhanced reporting. Possibly even using the custom reporting mechanisms in these contact center system to generate correlated reports. What can be learned or gained; competence of products, consumer habits, or if technical issues are from the same product(s) and require swift action. Companies can work to make those products and devices better and increase customer satisfaction.
The Internet of Things could have a massive impact on the contact center, empowering companies to deliver proactive service, and be ready to engage. Proactive offerings will enable companies to offer a totally differentiated type of support than they do today. More opportunities to add value to standard service offerings. The Internet of Things will also change contact centers by facilitating more control over customer service by providing them with new streams of information which is integrated in to their existing infrastructure. The effect this could have on customer service in this “me now” world will be huge. No longer will customers have to call into a contact center, navigate the IVR forest, only to explain to an agent or agents a complex problem they are having with their appliance. Companies and lines of businesses will see their NPS,CSAT, or KPIs along with customer service increase. Agents will be more knowledgeable and useful and companies should recognize cost savings through a more streamlined, proactive way of working. Lastly to borrow from my colleague and McKinsey, I’ll leave you with these two thoughts: “Any business that fails to invest heavily in the IoT in the next 10 years is unlikely to be able to remain competitive.” And, as consumers continue to anticipate speedy and effective customer service, companies must integrate their IoT initiatives into the contact center, and use it as a tool for delivering excellent customer service.
About the Author
Brent Morgan, Genesys Practice Lead Brent is responsible for directing and growing our Genesys practice, actively working with clients, sales, support, operations, and marketing to ensure the core practice is serving our customers and supporting key areas of the business. He is a uniquely qualified professional with twenty years of experience in technology consulting, business analysis, solution design, and process implementation. He analyzes the problems to be solved and the necessary requirements from all perspectives, to ensure ASI provides solid solutions and successful project delivery. He is instrumental in communicating and educating Arrow Systems Integration about the Genesys portfolio offerings across their three distinct platforms. He works tirelessly with our customers both pre- and post-sales while managing the partner relationship with Genesys.Brent is trained and certified across the three Genesys platforms; PureEngage, PureConnect and PureCloud.Follow on Twitter More Content by Brent Morgan