The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a hot topic for some time now and we are increasingly surrounded by smart devices and objects that can communicate with each other and with the user. Some examples? Training shoes that connect to smartwatches and smartphones, providing detailed information about the wearer’s sporting performance. The watch that activates your wake-up alarm earlier than usual if there’s heavy traffic on the way to work. Interconnected cars that slow down automatically if there’s an accident ahead. Hotel room doors you open with your smartphone, without needing to collect the key from front desk.
All market analysts and observers are forecasting exponential growth for the Internet of Things. Intel has analyzed the IoT scenario, reporting that 15 billion objects were connected to the internet in 2015 and estimating that this figure will reach 200 billion devices in 2020.
We are therefore witnessing the birth of a new frontier for the interconnection between people’s physical lives and digital worlds. It isn’t hard to imagine that the Internet of Things will have a strong and lasting impact on various industrial sectors, as well as on our everyday lives. This connectivity looks set to change the operating model applied by contact centers and revolutionize forever what is increasingly a digital customer experience.
A new model of customer care
If this trend continues, there will be a revolution in customer care activities too in the years ahead. With the Leonardo 2.0.14 innovation lab, Transcom is setting its sights on the future, by analyzing opportunities and empowering technology to create advanced contact center solutions and perfect the customer experience in the era of the Internet of Things.
As an example, the research lab is now focusing its attention on the new devices we can use to connect with contact centers. The telephone is no longer the only contact channel, but also cars, refrigerators, televisions, alarm clocks, shoes, keys, the washing machine… Another area of analysis is the transition from classic customer care to “proactive” assistance, in which smart objects use the data they continuously share to notify operating malfunctions by themselves and trigger operator calls to the owner. If our shoes realize we’re running too much for our profile, the contact center makes a proactive call to tell us to take a break. If the alarm rings early because there’s heavy traffic, we can activate the contact center to book a taxi, which calls us back on our mobile phone. If the washing machine breaks down, it can activate a call to the technical assistance service, which performs tests and then calls us back to help troubleshoot the issue. If our car moves but we aren’t in it, the contact center warns us, helps us activate the alarm systems and provides support.
The customer care operator can therefore display all pertinent information about the product requiring support, analyzing it and providing remote assistance like a doctor reading a patient’s clinical records. Likewise, the operator can display the geographical location of the customer or product, in such a way as to provide logistics and delivery support, as well as the time and place of arrival of the customer and the product/service at their destination. Last, but by no means least, the operator will also have access to information about the customer’s preferences and habits, and so be able to offer targeted product/service support that is aligned with expectations and areas of interest.
All told, the Internet of Things really does seem to be one of the most important and promising of recent developments, increasing the quality of life for all of us in ways that are hard to predict.