Can customer service management keep up with IoT and the rise of connected devices?

Paul Hardy, from the chief strategy office of ServiceNow

For many people “the best service is no service,” yet getting to the nirvana of eliminating the reasons why customers call is a challenge. Today’s customer service teams are buried under manual workloads, and the volume of incoming cases is increasing, leaving little time for redesigning processes, anticipating customer issues, or driving strategic projects.

To make matters worse, the rise of connected devices and products – such as routers, medical devices and even e-bicycles – all requiring maintenance and regular software updates, will put even more pressure on customer service departments. And this, coupled with increasing customer demand and expectations, means that customer service has never been more complex, says Paul Hardy from the chief strategy office of ServiceNow.

The headache of maintaining IoT devices

When it comes to maintaining Internet of things (IoT) devices, the only way of fixing them (or even knowing something has gone wrong) requires collaboration and coordination between multiple organisational departments, systems and workflows. It is no longer enough to leave customer service to just the front line.

Businesses responsible for these devices and the services running across them need full visibility of infrastructure, software and any customer issues to ensure that all these areas function seamlessly together.

But the bad news is, that for many companies, the people, processes and systems needed to resolve such customer issues are still too isolated from each other.

Customer service

Research conducted by ServiceNow in 2016 found that bridging the gap between the various business functions in organisations today is difficult, if not impossible. As many as 54% of respondents said that these different functions do not communicate with each other, while 57% say that their biggest customer service challenge is connecting all service processes to provide streamlined service experience from the first contact to permanent problem resolution.

To provide an effortless experience for customers as well as for the agents serving them, businesses need to move beyond siloed approaches to embrace a modern cloud-based customer service system with an end-to-end workflow that connects departments, processes, and systems.

The role of automation

One of the quickest ways to reduce customer service caseloads and make measurable improvements to the bottom line is with self-service and automation. Imagine taking your most frequently recurring requests, such as a customer asking for an upgrade or password reset, and enabling them to help themselves while having the entire process completed without agent or technician involvement.

Not only is the service faster, but errors are reduced, and agents can spend time-solving the less familiar and more challenging problems.

With the Internet of Things comes an abundance of data. Connected devices are constantly gathering data from customers and if used appropriately, this data can give companies clear insight into what their customers want and how they are using the services provided. It also enables customer services to proactively monitor customer systems, products, apps, devices or hardware to know about specific outages long before a customer calls.

By analysing this data and implementing performance analytics, customer service teams can continuously reduce the number of recurring requests, know what is helping customers, and know where improvements are needed is to proactively monitor real-time performance so that you can take action.

3 clouds

Embracing the IoT challenge

Despite the challenges that IoT will inevitably bring to customer service, the deluge of connected products, services and devices also presents an amazing opportunity for companies to deliver better customer service.

In an age where user experience is surpassing product and price as the number one brand differentiator, focusing on the user, their environment and what they’re trying to do with their technology is absolutely essential.

And it’s those businesses that recognise the need to collaborate and coordinate between multiple departments, systems and workflows that will succeed in today’s hyper connected world. By transforming the service model so that it falls in line with what customers want, businesses can use IoT to stand out from competition.

The author of this blog is Paul Hardy from the chief strategy office of ServiceNow

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_ OR @jcIoTnow

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