No matter the industry, every company wants to better understand their customer. The why is obvious. By better understanding their needs, companies can better serve them – creating longstanding customer loyalty. The how is less obvious.
In today’s day and age, the available information about customers seems to grow richer each and every day. Thanks to the Internet, there is a broad record of information about consumers – what they are interested in, their likes, dislikes, buying history, the list goes on. How do you channel that into actionable data for your business? Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools like Salesforce have been helping companies distill consumer information into one system of record for years.
Enter the IoT.
While understanding the voice of the customer is hugely important, with the IoT – a new and much louder voice is emerging, the voice of the product. Today there are about as many connected products (smartphones, TVs, thermostats) as there are people on the planet – 6 billion. By 2020 Gartner estimates that number will be more than 20 billion, so the data from devices will quickly outpace the data we get directly from customers. So how will this affect how we interact with customers?
In most companies today product development, product support, and customer service are different organizations with varying priorities. Each group has their own way to track information, manage business processes, and measure success. With the IoT, there is an exciting opportunity to merging all three of these unique groups into a unified collaboration – connecting the voice of the customer to the voice of the product.
Combining customer and product data creates a significantly richer view of the end customer and in turn helps companies deliver much better products and services. It allows companies to directly link the specific type of device that customer uses, how they prefer to be supported, and what other products they utilize. Imagine knowing in real-time how your products are being used, if usage is increasing or decreasing, what time of day its being most used, etc. How will that information change the way you do business? This type of strategy is being used today when it comes to apps on a smartphone. For example, King Digital is well aware that I have Candy Crush installed on my phone (who doesn’t?), how frequently I play, what version I have, etc. As a result of this information they are able to push updates directly to my phone ensuring I have the best version of the game, directly market new or similar games to me, and send me notifications when I haven’t played in a while to remind me of all the fun I am missing. This is same business strategy can be applied to connected product companies and will transform how they do business.
The second significant value of marrying customer and product data is that it will lead to a richer customer support experience. We’ve all been on the phone with customer support fumbling to find the serial number of the product, the version of software installed, trying to remember where we bought it to help provide clues to why we are having whatever issue we are having. It’s no one’s fault, but it makes the experience less than ideal. If your product is talking to the company – the answers to all of those questions should be available before you even call the helpdesk. With the product talking, support centers will have a view into who the customer is, the product they are using, the problem they are having and be able to offer a quick resolution. In some cases, product companies may be able to fix issues before the customer even knows they have one – now that’s customer support!
Having a stronger relationship between customer and product data will be an essential part of the IoT moving forward. At Xively we have a great partnership with CRM giant Salesforce enabling the product data we have in our platform to be shown side-by-side with the customer data the company already has in Salesforce. Having all of that information at the ready helps product companies design and build better products, market more effectively, and provide a delightful customer experience from pre to post-sale. All of these factors combined provide a strong opportunity not only increase customer loyalty but actually create a customer for life. And that, in the end, is every business’ goal.