How Forward-Thinking Contact Centers Can Make Efficient Use of the Internet of Things

In today’s technology-driven consumer landscape, the Internet of Things (IoT) is more than just a buzzword: It’s a fundamental shift in the way companies (and customers) handle data.  A recent CMO article highlights some of the more impressive (and mind-blowing) IoT statistics:

• In 2008, there were already more “things” connected to the Internet than people.  By 2020, the amount of Internet-connected things will reach 50 billion, with $19 trillion in profits and cost savings coming from IoT over the next decade.
• Only 0.06% of things that could be connected to the Internet currently are, which means 10 billion things out of the 1.5 trillion that exist globally are currently connected.
• A whopping 94% of all businesses have seen a return on their IoT investments.

For contact centers, the implications of the IoT are massive; its rapid growth and adoption has the potential to bring unprecedented levels of activity to the contact center.  Yet many argue that contact center technology is not yet equipped to handle the flood of customer interactions anticipated.

Wherever an individual company may fall on the IoT spectrum (for or against), statistics such as those highlighted above indicate that it’s here to stay.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways forward-thinking contact centers can make efficient use of the IoT:

Personalize Content & Customize Offers

As Anthony Scriffignano, Ph.D., SVP Leader, Worldwide Data and Insight at Dun & Bradstreet, notes in a D&B Connectors blog, the amount of data provided by the IoT is both a challenge – and an opportunity.

“Our problem isn’t an absence of data, but too much data, increasing at an increasing rate,” he says.  “Many [companies] are still struggling to connect the dots.”

However, the article suggests that companies of all types can leverage the data provided by the IoT to personalize content and customize offers in potentially “new and exciting ways.”

For contact centers in particular, this means investing in the technology infrastructure to support the ever-increasing volume of data coming in.  In essence, it builds on omni-channel customer support, with agents having the ability to connect with customers not just through multiple communications channels but via any connected appliance, in-home media, vehicle, etc.

Improve Customer Experience & Satisfaction

But what’s, really, at the root of all of these connected “things?”  Satisfied customers.

A Computerworld article gives an example of a “smart” refrigerator that determines the condenser coil is failing and gets in touch with the manufacturer’s contact center – before the customer even realizes there’s a problem.

“Routing algorithms will – in theory – determine who should process the repair, business analytics and CRM connectors will allow the agent to pull up the refrigerator’s owner information, allowing the agent to proactively call the owner to prevent the pending refrigerator’s disaster,” says PanTerra Networks CEO Arthur Chang in the article.

Research shows customer experience is only increasing in importance, giving contact centers the opportunity to proactively improve the interactions they have with customers as the IoT infiltrates the market.

Final Thoughts

It may be too soon to tell exactly how and when the Internet of Things will come face-to-face with the contact center, but, as of today, one thing is for certain: The IoT is only gaining speed and momentum.  Contact centers that embrace the next wave of technology will be positioned for improved interactions with customers, leading to more satisfied customers and ultimately improved business.

What are your organization’s thoughts on the Internet of Things?  Do you view the IoT as a positive or a negative for contact centers?

© Prokhorov