Consumers are ramping up their adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT). Sales of smart devices like the Amazon Echo sound system and intelligent thermostats and lamps are on the rise, with Gartner predicting there will be 8.4 billion connected “things” in 2017, up 30% over 2016.
All this points to IoT use becoming a priority for businesses over the next several years. With the ability to collect data about how, where and when consumers use products and services, these technologies are poised to usher in a new era of customer experience. Consider these five examples.
1. More Personalized Service
With IoT, businesses will collect more detailed data about how individual customers use their products. Amazon already enables customers to easily re-order products with the push of a button, and both LG and Samsung have introduced smart refrigerators that allow consumers to view their contents via an app.
While this is useful for planning grocery store runs, IoT can personalize the customer experience even further. By collecting data at each connection point, businesses will have a better understanding of the customer journey and can deliver personalized offers and content at the right moment.
2. Streamlined Customer Interactions
Another advantage of smart devices is that they eliminate unnecessary steps in the purchasing process. For example, Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant removes the need to fire up a laptop or smartphone to place an order. Using voice controls, customers can ask Alexa to place an order for more cat food.
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This is just the first step toward more streamlined customer interactions. For example, a smart refrigerator could simply order more milk as its sensors detect the volume of a gallon container decreasing.
Walmart is clearly anticipating this future. It’s applied for a patent to integrate IoT tags into products, according to Forbes. The tags would allow the retailer to monitor and collect detailed product usage data, then tailor alerts to individual circumstances – such as when detergent is low or a light bulb burns out – and automatically deliver items as needed.
3. More Relevant Marketing Incentives
Personalized marketing incentives are not new, but analyzing data from smart devices can help businesses deliver more relevant and timely rewards. As customers interact with businesses via IoT-enabled devices, customized rewards can be triggered automatically at specific thresholds. Delivered at the right moment, these incentives build loyalty and keep customer interaction high.
4. Real-Time Responses to Customer Needs
Real-time monitoring is also a potential opportunity for businesses. Manufacturing and transportation, for example, can use the IoT to monitor and predict the need for equipment maintenance. This reduces the risk of system outages that could reduce the quality of the customer experience.
But perhaps the most uplifting use case is in health care. Devices such as the Apple Watch and other health monitors can provide valuable information about a customer’s health in real-time to physicians and other health care providers. This can help patients stay healthier and recover more quickly.
5. Faster R&D Turnaround
Another advantage of real-time monitoring is the ability to fast track both new offerings and product improvements through the research and development phase. Businesses that use IoT to collect customer feedback can pinpoint emerging needs and identify problems early and deliver this analysis to product teams, all to bring new and improved products to market more quickly.
We’re still in the early days of IoT. As the technology develops and additional use cases emerge, the opportunities for businesses to leverage it to improve customer experience will expand. As a result, IoT will become a significant competitive lever that businesses can pull. Those that do will find that the combination of smart devices, intelligent data collection and analysis, and personalized service will be tough to beat.