2015 Prediction: Customer Service 3.0, Thanks to the Internet of Things

A “smart house” that doesn’t need a key because it recognizes the resident and opens the door. A microwave-type oven that cooks food to perfection just by hitting the start button. Clothes that shrink to fit the wearer. A video phone integrated into the full wall-size TV. Hoverboards. Time travel in a DeLorean. Sound familiar?

There is no shortage of movies and TV shows depicting futuristic worlds. Most of the time, these are way off but sometimes they are spot on—maybe just overestimating how quickly those innovations will become reality. The “Back to the Future” movies have elements of both an accurate and inaccurate future (or maybe we just haven’t gotten there yet). The smart house featured in the second movie is becoming reality and rising in popularity. The Internet of Everything with its ubiquitous Internet-connected devices ranging from thermostats to appliances, is everywhere.

Those connected devices, such as game consoles, TVs, appliances and personal fitness devices, are expected to grow to 25 billion in 2015. That means the number of Internet-connected devices has surpassed the number of humans on Earth—and next year there will be nearly three and a half devices for every person. All of those devices are filling Internet databases with valuable customer information at an exponential rate.

We’ve talked about how access to real-time, actionable data and mapping the customer journey are enabling brands to provide proactive and hyper-personalized interactions…but what is next? Is it related to the Internet of Everything and all those devices? Emphatically, yes. The convergence of the Internet of Things with customer service is only going to intensify the customer’s expectations for proactive, hyper-personalized service—Customer Service 3.0.

The “same old” customer service brands offer today simply will not work in the Internet of Everything-enabled tomorrow. Customers will expect more. Even brands making strides to engage on social media platforms and pivot multi-channel interactions need to up their customer service game. How can the information provided by all of those Internet-connected devices be best put to use to streamline and improve customer-brand interactions?

It is only a matter of time before an appliance is able to inform the manufacturer when it is in need of service, enabling the brand to then contact the customer proactively to schedule a maintenance appointment. There will be seamless communication between the device and customer care staffers, alleviating the pain for customers to keep track of when to refill a prescription, schedule an oil change or even reset a thermostat’s time for Daylight Savings Time. A decade ago, this was nothing more than a futuristic concept in magazines and TV shows. But now brands must harness all this interconnected streaming data—Customer Service 3.0 is here and it’s both proactive and personalized. It’s not simple, but it is essential. These devices are full of invaluable data, and brands must put it to work to improve the customer service they offer.

These proactive interactions offer customer service agents the opportunity to change the course of the customer experience by using real-time data combined with predictive analytics. That makes interactions easier for both the customer and the brand. Rather than interacting with a customer who is frustrated because their refrigerator died just days outside of the warranty period, an agent can delight the customer by contacting them to resolve an issue before it impacts the appliance’s performance. Quick reactions to head off negative events help brands—and their customer service—stay one step ahead of customers. And that’s a demand brands will increasingly hear from customers as people become more accustomed to the Internet of Everything—“contact me before I contact you. “

Customers are beginning to expect a new level of personalized, proactive service—and brands must be ready to deliver. Whether or not a brand offers Internet-enabled products, they must be ready to meet the “new normal” standard of customer service. The days of flying your hoverboard to work might still be in the future, but we are getting closer.

(Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)