contact center platformsThe Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a reality as you are reading this. It’s not just a buzz word anymore. For those who remember the TV series from the ’80s Knight Rider, soon you will be able to say “ K.I.T.T., I need you, buddy” to your smartwatch, which will be connected to a driver-less car that will pick you up. And yet, just a couple of years ago, some experts felt that the IoT was predominantly an academic concept rather than a real demand from the market.

IoT is about objects connecting themselves to the internet and to other objects. And by that method, they become controllable and trackable from anywhere, but also have some sort of autonomy. With IoT, it will be possible for everybody and everything to be connected at all times, receiving and processing information in real time.

Everyone and everything being connected at all times is also leading to the emergence of a new generation of consumers who demand new ubiquitous products and services that are interconnected, consistent and continuous across their entire journey. It’s important to note that the center of IoT is the consumer – the human being – and the purpose of IoT is to make our lives easier. Or will it?

IoT and the Customer Experience

Today, once a product or service is sold there is little relationship carried forward regarding the use of the product or service itself. Most e-commerce providers establish an ongoing shopping relationship up until the transaction is done. But, when the transaction finishes, there is limited ability to create additional or new value for the customer or the enterprise.

With objects and services connected at all times, there will be terabytes of digitized information about how the customer is consuming a company’s products and engaging with the brand. The confluence of this behavioral data and interaction data between customer and the company can help businesses understand customers better and create new value for them in real time.

As we start purchasing and using these connected products and services, the experience we have with the company is what will create stickiness to that brand. This will be impacted by a company’s ability to manage all the individual interactions that make up the experience. There will be so many options out there in the market, and those organizations who really understand their customers are the ones who will be able to retain them and grow their business.

One More Channel and More Siloed Data

With IoT, will your washing machine be able to perform a self-diagnosis, notify the manufacturer that the drain pump needs replacing and arrange for someone to come replace it? Probably – and hopefully – one day! But as these tedious little things that we do today become automated – what’s important is that we do not create another silo of data that is completely segregated and inaccessible. Similar to how the call center has evolved into the contact center by adding other channels such as email, chat, web and social – the future may see the addition of object communications to the cross-channel communication mix.  It adds value to the conversation between the customer and the company – and it maintains the customer at the center of the business.

IVR Evolution

Coming back to the problem with the washing machine, today we would be contacting the vendor for a solution and would most probably be greeted by an IVR. If it is well-programmed, you would be receiving a personalized and contextual menu.  But as the enterprise aggregates all the data about different product and services consumed by the customer, the IVR could potentially evolve into a context-aware communication platform for objects and humans – probably allowing the washing machine to self-order the spare part and notifying you of the same.  Regardless of who or what interacts with the company (the object or the user), one conversation is what is needed; this can be managed by a single platform that can commonly translate, analyze and react to any communication type in real time.

API Management and Open Platforms

But how will your washing machine communicate with the contact center? It is estimated that there are 9 billion things connected to the internet. IMS Research forecasts that there will be 30 billion connected devices by 2020. Web APIs and more specifically REST APIs are becoming key to connect the objects or devices to the internet. In the future, there will be growing demand for all platforms to provide APIs to allow ease of communication – but at the same time there will increasing concerns around security.

So can your contact center and customer engagement platform support those APIs?  And is it secure and scalable?

Let me talk to an expert!

As technology advances, products and devices will become less problematic, you would think that you’ll spend less time talking to a customer service representative on the phone regarding an issue. But actually it might be just the opposite. It is true that the volume of calls to a contact center would decrease – but when you think of it – customers could be calling for an issue that will probably be quite complex, requiring advanced expertise. Customer service representatives will be required to provide deeper analysis into a query and may even need to bring back office experts into the conversation. The Average Handle Time would dramatically increase – unless there is more intelligence prior to the conversation. With an “intelligent” contact center platform which can take into account object and human communication, the interaction could be more contextual and be routed to the most appropriately skilled expert in the enterprise – therefore achieving First Call Resolution every time.

Get Started by Creating Continuous Conversations!

The IoT is fast approaching. In the meantime, is your contact center turning interactions such as voice, email, chat or social into seamless conversations across the entire customer journey? Surprisingly, quite a large number of contact centers are still handling multi-channel interactions in a siloed manner and are unable to bring opportunity and value to the business, while building customer loyalty. If you want to learn more, check out Genesys Conversation Manager , you’ll be able to create seamless customer conversations from any interaction type – human or objects.

If you have a comment on the IoT and how it could impact the customer experience in your industry, please join the conversation by commenting below!