Customer Service Evolution in the Age of IoT

The future of Customer Service will involve less human interaction and less stress. The Internet of Things is set to drastically change customer service due to the connectivity of physical objects with the internet – but it will also change the consumer experience forever. Estimates vary, but it is thought between 20 to 50 billion devices worldwide will be connected to the internet by 2020.

In the US one retailer is already testing wirelessly connected robots in 11 of its stores. The American DIY chain Lowe’s has robots that speak several languages, help shoppers find products, and provide advice and information. If you don’t want to go shopping you will be able to utilise 3D software that creates a model of your own body on your device, so that you can try on different styles of clothes and colours without leaving your bedroom. Software developers claim that their product is so accurate it can accurately demonstrate unflattering body bulges.

After-sales service is close to taking on a completely new meaning as increasingly items like televisions, washing machines, air conditioners, refrigerators, and even cars are wirelessly connected to the internet. Products which include sensors continuously send information back to the manufacturer about customer usage and behaviour. This means that through the introduction of IoT enabled products, we will witness a potentially happy and continuous, long-term relationship developing between customers the product manufacturers. Instead of a customer contacting an after-sales service operator to report a problem, the customer may receive a warning that the vacuum cleaner is about to overheat and a suggestion on how to avoid the problem. Equally, a new lawnmower part could be delivered to your home prior to the old component failing.

I call this exciting evolution of the customer experience the Third Phase of the customer service model. Phase One involved a complaint scenario where consumers either made a phone call or had to visit the store where the item was purchased to receive customer support. A few of us may still fondly remember those days. It’s probably fair to say that in the past 20 years, Phase Two of the customer service experience has proved the most frustrating for consumers. The process of calling an automated helpline which guides customers through troubleshooting steps has angered an entire generation of consumers, whose frustrations have only multiplied when their calls have eventually been routed to under-qualified support agents.

I think it’s safe to predict that in the very near future we will see stress levels fall as customers are served more efficiently before and after their purchase. We will witness a complete turnaround from the traditional customer service where customers are “sold to” prior to the purchase and been given a support if the product fail after the purchase to a continuous relationships between customers and sellers. The result, I believe, will lead to a much more satisfying customer experience.

By: Eitan Bienstock entrepreneur, an active voice in the innovation ecosystem and the founder & CEO of Everything IoT .

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