According to a recent survey by customer care solutions provider iQor, more than one in three US adults have experienced issues setting up or operating a connected device, and on average, consumers engage with 2.1 companies, over 2.7 sessions and with 3.1 different people as they attempted to install and engage with new connected technology in their home.
A prime example is the Wi-Fi-connected Blu-ray player. If the connection doesn't work, a customer many have to contact their internet provider, TV manufacturer, and the Blu-ray player manufacturer. They may also quickly find out that no one in the chain of multiple service calls wants to take ownership of the problem.
"Adoption of connected devices is on the verge of transitioning from early adopters to the mainstream as popularity and integration of IoT expands and homes become smarter," said Autumn Braswell, COO, LinQ Integrated Solutions at iQor, in a press release. "It is crucial that organizations streamline and improve the support process now to reduce the number of steps, people and brands required to unlock the intended value of the connected device and ensure that the customer service challenges are addressed before mass adoption."
If your company manufactures or sells IoT products, here are some steps you can take to improve service and the overall customer experience:
1. Sell or produce universally compatible tech products
Whether you manufacture or just sell your own IoT products, you should require that these devices conform to industry interoperability and compatibility standards. This eases the installation of the devices in homes, where consumers can be counted on to have a plurality of devices from many different manufacturers.
2. Hire infrastructure-savvy technicians and tech support personnel
You might have to pay experienced infrastructure persons more than entry-level junior techs, but the investment is well worth it if you can assemble a corps of techs who really understand your products and the home tech environments that your products operate in. These techs, with their home tech infrastructure knowledge, will be more likely to resolve tech issues on the first visit.
SEE: Hiring kit: IoT developer (Tech Pro Research)
3. Use videos to help more junior techs
Junior techs aren't going to have a broad base of experience when they first make home service calls. At the same time, they might be hesitant to call someone for help while they are on presumes with the customer watching them. "One option is to give them a library of YouTube-style videos on different troubleshooting accounts and procedure they can use in problem solving," said Braswell. "This brings the expert into the home, and the junior tech can more easily address the issue."
4. Map out the entire customer journey
"Once the customer purchases your product, think about how that customer is going to interact with the technology," said Braswell. "What type of value does the customer expect from the technology? What types of problems are they likely to experience when they first install the product? How can your service manuals, online help and onsite visits be positioned to solve these issues quickly?"
5. Think about your customer's infrastructure at the point of sale—not when they need servicing
"You can be proactive and eliminate needless service calls by having the salesperson ask the customer if (they have) the necessary equipment at home that your product will need to interact with," said Braswell. "If the customer confirms that he or she already has all of the necessary equipment, many problems resulting from failed installations can be precluded."
6. Consolidate omnichannel services for a 360 degree view of the customer
Customers get frustrated when they are asked repeatedly to give their names, account numbers, trouble tickets, and problem statements to the service reps they are passed to via chat, phones, in person, etc. This frustration is well-founded. It is fair for consumers to expect companies to be as aware and as interested in their problems as they are. Many companies fail at this—even though they offer omnichannel sales. There is no reason for this to happen anymore. For years, CRM (customer relationship management) systems have provided for integration of omnichannel sales channels into a single view of a customer that gives everyone a single view of the customer experience—from sales to service.
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Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.