The Customer Experience Accelerator You Can’t Afford to Ignore

From retail to healthcare and insurance, the Internet of Things is personalizing interactions to a level we are just beginning to imagine.

If you’re not considering the Internet of Things as an important component in your customer experience (CX) toolkit, you’d better rethink your CX strategy – and fast. Why?

Because CX is hard to do. We’re falling quite short, and we cannot afford to overlook anything that could provide an advantage – particularly one as significant as the effective use of the IoT.

Despite the fact that most Forbes Global Fortune 500 company executives believe that CX is the primary competitive differentiator, organizations are hitting a plateau with their CX initiatives. Or worse.

In its 2018 Customer Experience Index study, Forrester research found that not only are brand CX gains and losses canceling each other out, but more industries fell in the rankings than rose. And not a single U.S. company ranked as providing “excellent” CX. Only 15 percent provided “good” CX and the majority, 62 percent, fell into the “OK” category.

How can companies improve customer experience using IoT?

To improve, companies must do a better job of understanding their customers and using that knowledge to provide personalized, satisfying and convenient experiences. This is where the IoT can make a substantial difference.

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Companies must do a better job providing personalized, satisfying and convenient experiences.

IoT represents a powerful source of data that when combined with analytics can yield insights on everything from behavior to emotions and health. It also provides opportunities for immediate communications that allow companies to deliver contextually relevant responses and offers in real time.

And the potential to detect product failures before they happen has implications well beyond the manufacturing floor, particularly when applied to expensive cars, electronics and smart components.

Savvy companies are starting to realize this reality. According to IDC, worldwide spending on IoT will increase by 15.4 percent from last year, hitting $745 billion in 2019 and topping $1 trillion by 2020.

And while manufacturing and production top the spending list, insurance, retail and healthcare are all projected to be among the fastest IoT growth industries, with many of the expenditures coming in areas that directly or indirectly improve the customer experience.

IoT in insurance

In insurance, consider the impact IoT-enabled telematics has on the experience of parents with teen drivers.

Facing young people with more confidence than experience and insurance rates that threaten pocketbooks if not life and limb, most are more than happy to install the telematics systems that provide insight into driving habits while also keeping rates low.

What’s more, IoT adoption is no longer solely for enthusiastic tech adopters. Insurers like Travelers are expanding their capabilities beyond telematics, partnering with an e-commerce marketplace to offer customers discounted home security kits which include cameras, motion detectors, water sensors and Echo Dots. This will provide Travelers the opportunity to reduce claims costs, collect customer information (through Dot interactions) and improve the customer experience.

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Organizations are hitting a plateau with their customer experience initiatives. Or worse.

IoT in retail

Examples of IoT in retail abound: kiosks that let you try on clothes virtually; coupons that load to your phone when you enter a store; and never-out products such as printer-ink cartridges that detect when levels are low and automatically order refills.

My favorite example is how Kroger is transforming the in-store grocery shopping experience with its Kroger Edge and Bag, Scan and Go initiatives.

Edge is digital signage technology that Kroger is using to make its grocery store shelves smart. Replacing paper signs on the shelves, the digital signage will display ads and inform shoppers of pricing and nutrition information.

Eventually the signs will sync with smart phones to highlight items on a shopping list and allow customers to ask questions such as: Which brand is on sale today and which products are gluten free?

Bag, Scan and Go allows customers to scan and bag groceries as they shop and use the self-checkout kiosks to simply pay and go, eliminating those long, frustrating checkout lines.

Both initiatives optimize the shopper experience considerably and also provide Kroger with valuable information about shopper behavior, which it can use in its world-class analytics and personalization programs.

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IoT adoption is no longer solely for enthusiastic tech adopters.

IoT in healthcare

IoT is also revolutionizing healthcare. Wearables, medical devices and sensors embedded in items such as pill boxes are aiding in elder care, diagnostics, hospitals and clinical settings.

Telemetry is changing how medical care is delivered, and clinical apps are starting to include interfaces such as speech and gesture recognition and sensors as their primary data capture model. Supported by AI, these changes mean a significant rise in data volumes and quality.

There’s no question that IoT is a CX accelerator. It’s rife with possibilities for elevating our CX in gathering substantially more information on our customers than we ever had before – and for personalizing interactions to a level we are just beginning to imagine.

This article originally appeared on the SAS Insights blog and was republished with permission.

Lisa Loftis is a thought leader on the SAS Best Practices team, where she focuses on customer intelligence, customer experience management and digital marketing. She is co-author of the book, Building the Customer-Centric Enterprise.

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