March 3, 2015
There is a theory in the contact center world that communication should not be based around business to business or business to consumer, but rather on business to person. Businesses are not buying what you have to sell. Individual purchasing managers are now the ones making these decisions. Consumers are not one-size-fits-all decision makers; everyone has unique needs. As we enter the era of The Internet of Things, this personalized business to person approach to customer service will be extended.
The Customer Journey
In recent history, the customer journey has evolved. E-commerce has boomed and customers are now armed with a computer, including a web browser, in the palm of their hands. Contact centers are now a central point for customers to communicate with a business via calls, emails, texts, Tweets, Facebook, and more. When combined with the large amount of personal data that companies are able to retain about people, customers can receive an unparalleled level of personal service. Agents know who they are calling, why they are calling and, often times, what lifetime value that customer represents to the company. This data is used to tailor service to the individual. Despite the trend of connected “things,” the human element is not going away.
The Next Generation Contact Center
We have already seen the first wave of next generation contact center interaction. One example of this is the Amazon Mayday button on their Kindle Fire devices. Customers can simply press a button when they need help and they are immediately connected to a customer service agent (typically in less than 10 seconds)! Once connected, the agent can ask for control of the device. They can draw on-screen and walk users through the solution to their problem. Users of all skill levels can quickly get their questions answered and their devices working again.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things will take customer service to a whole new level. Wikipedia defines the Internet of Things as “the network of physical objects or ‘things’ embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices.” One common example is that your car can alert the manufacturer or dealer when you have a problem and they will proactively contact you for an appointment. Similar approaches can be applied to endless industrial products, allowing for proactive maintenance when something happens. These examples certainly impact the contact center, but the Internet of Things is more than proactive outbound dialing.
Personalized Service and Wearable Technology
Sensors are all around us and wearable technology is a growing sector. What if you tried on an RFID tagged jacket at a store, but didn’t purchase it? That store could add that bit of information to its database and target you for specific marketing. Or, maybe the next time you visit their website they display an advertisement or a discount for that jacket. The amount of information companies have about us is going to boom. Privacy concerns aside, the opportunity for personalized service has never been bigger.
Despite a trend toward connected devices and customer self service, human interaction is not going away. For example, Amazon using connected technology to allow customers to quickly get service when they have an issue. The contact center will be getting more and more information from devices and sensors and this will fuel the databases that drive personalized customer service. Basic issues and questions should be fielded either automatically or through portals and self-service applications. In this new era, when you have a unique issue or need, companies should be able to wow you with service unlike what you have ever seen before. The Internet of Things will allow for exceptional customer service.
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