Traditionally, a business only hears from a customer when something has broken, or service is required. This can lead to an abrupt interaction between the vendor and the customer. But what if businesses could avoid some of this unnecessary friction by leveraging real-time customer data and insights to proactively serve customers? That is exactly the opportunity that’s arising as products become increasingly connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). While businesses are only starting to scratch the surface on how IoT data can be applied to enhance the customer experience, it will soon become required to compete and ensure customer loyalty.
IoT data has already proven to deliver tremendous value to IT and operations leaders across various industries. Excited by their success, the C-level is following in their footsteps to leverage IoT to reach a different set of business objectives. For example, IoT data can help the C-level make smarter decisions around what customers want, and keep track of how their needs change over time. This ranges from being able to quickly address known issues and build better products to differentiating from the competition.
C-Levels can apply IoT in an endless number of ways, depending on the industry. Below are just a few of the ways these leaders can use IoT data to deliver better customer experiences:
Chief Experience Officer
IoT data provides transparency into how a product is being used after a customer has taken it home. This data can be analyzed and leveraged to improve a company’s customer satisfaction, product mix and design, and more. This could be in the form of increasing a total addressable market, driving up customer loyalty, enhancing products, or something else altogether.
For example, a CXO of a microwave manufacturer can track the most popular programmed cooking modes customers select to cook and reheat their food. If the customer selects the popcorn setting, then selects several more manual time increments, the original cook time may not be enough to cook the popcorn fully. The CXO can compare this data with customer complaints and make a decision to adjust it. They may learn that a larger bag of popcorn has been introduced to the market and a new mode needs to be added to their menu to ensure the perfect cook time. This same concept applies to calibration settings on enterprise and industrial equipment.
Chief Marketing Officer
IoT data can help discover a new addressable market after reviewing customer usage data. A CMO can then make a case for introducing a new product that better addresses customer needs. This can create new revenue and happier customers that are more inclined to recommend the brand for purchase.
For example, a CMO at a dishwasher manufacturer might discover a new addressable market after reviewing customer usage data. If the data indicates entry level dishwashers are oftentimes being used beyond capacity resulting in regular maintenance issues, and their next level dishwasher is rarely leveraged fully to use all the available settings, then they can make the case that a mid-grade product would better address customer needs. It can also help avoid warranty service and parts costs associated with customers misusing a product.
Chief Product Officer
IoT data can tell businesses exactly how customers use specific product features, or if they aren’t using them at all. In response, they can better educate the customer or refine and improve the feature. By closing any existing education gaps, customers can experience the full breadth of benefits of a product. However, if it’s determined the feature doesn’t work well enough or is of no value, organizations can take steps to replace it, or eliminate it to save on production costs. Also, discovering the most popular features can provide the added benefit of helping product designers zero in on where to focus value-added improvements.
For example, a CPO at a home appliance business can use IoT data to document feature utilization (or lack thereof) on a robotic vacuum cleaner. In the case of unused features, the business can follow up to learn if the feature effectively fulfills its intended task, or if the lack of utilization stems from the customer needing more education on how it works or a clearer explanation of the benefits.
Chief Revenue Officer
IoT data can prove highly valuable in extending service level agreements (SLAs) to satisfy both the vendor and the customer more effectively – enriching an important revenue stream managed by the CRO. Because the service provider can better foresee what is most likely to need service and how often, as well as verify products are being used as recommended, they can confidently lower SLA prices, creating a more attractive arrangement for the customer. This is a win-win for the business and customer. The business can increase SLA revenue and the customer has insurance for their purchase.
As time goes on, we’ll continue to see the adoption of IoT increase as different business units realize its potential to help maximize operational capacity and increase revenue, reduce costs, and improve the customer experience. We might see a skyscraper’s facilities management team use IoT to identify impending issues with an HVAC system, so they can dispatch maintenance to correct problems before they occur. Or, the logistics division at an airline might use IoT data to inform gate agents in real-time when overhead bins reach capacity or if luggage needs to be organized more efficiently, helping optimize the customer experience. The opportunities to incorporate IoT across an organization to enhance business outcomes truly are limitless.