Internet of Things (IoT), the market for which will grow from $625.2 billion in 2015 to $1.29 trillion in 2020, has, helped drive this fundamental shift. It is this ability to connect brands directly with the end-customer that is making IoT one of the key agenda points in boardroom discussions.
Today, you can be sitting in the comfort of your living room, ordering a t-shirt, prescription glasses or even a home, while comparing options, prices, brands and even reviews from consumers who have used these products. And while we don’t always realise it, we are definitely living in an era of personalisation, where the balance of power has firmly shifted to the individual—thanks to technology. Internet of Things (IoT), the market for which will grow from $625.2 billion in 2015 to $1.29 trillion in 2020, has, helped drive this fundamental shift. It is this ability to connect brands directly with the end-customer that is making IoT one of the key agenda points in boardroom discussions. IoT is increasingly becoming the thread that allows organisations to seamlessly connect their product design to their operations and then onwards to the actual touch point—the customer. In that context, IoT is the real livewire that marketers have been waiting for to fuel their campaigns. This ability to drive personalised messages on the back of real-time data from multiple sources lies at the heart of driving brand loyalty.
In today’s world where digitalisation is at the core of operations, IoT can help organisations gain a more holistic customer view as they introduce new engagement models and innovate personalised, smarter products. In doing so, it empowers businesses to adopt a multi-pronged approach for enhancing customer experience and propelling brand loyalty by delivering:
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Easy access to desired products/ brands: Today, consumers choose brands that offer easy access to services and customised experiences during purchase or even after-sales. This experience must be consistent across channels for customers, for them to remain loyal to the brand. IoT-enabled products and services allow brands to continuously deliver such extreme personalisation, in real-time.
Greater customer engagement: With the percolation of digitalisation, IoT and big data, brands are able to establish richer and continuous connections with customers. They can use customer feedback to phase out ineffective product features, improve marketing campaigns and create new product lines—all in real-time. Further, insights into customer buying behaviour, purchasing patterns, satisfaction drivers, and geographical locations put brands in a better position to proactively offer better and smarter products and services.
Higher productivity: By integrating data from various sources, IoT enables employees to personalise their interactions and engage with consumers. It also helps employees accomplish extensive tasks such as data analysis and data management at much faster speeds and with greater precision. Thus, IoT devices can improve decision-making processes by making sense of voluminous customer data, accelerating issue resolution and improving customer experience.
One of my favourite examples of organisations leveraging IoT to deliver customer delight is Disney World. The company has created an IoT-enabled wristband called the Disney MagicBand. These colourful silicon wristbands contain an RFID chip and long-range radio with a transmission range of 40 feet in every direction. The Disney MagicBand enables park visitors to digitally consolidate information such as parking tickets, credit card information, room keys, luggage pick-up, car rentals, and wait times at all the rides. It even allows customers to order food at the park’s restaurants!
Research indicates that, within a few years, 89% of today’s businesses will compete primarily on customer experience. So, despite all efforts to be digitally dynamic, millennial-centric and aesthetically-focused, companies that want to win in future must find ways to build smarter products and successfully retain customers. How can they do this? Here are some tips on how meaningful IoT and artificial intelligence when integrated with the overall business strategy can help organisations achieve this:
Differentiate your products: IoT gives companies insights into how their products are being used (or not used). Companies can then use this information to proactively improve product features, develop future upgrades and fix issues in real-time.
Be personal: By incorporating intelligent software like chatbots and voice responders, companies can look beyond traditional PoS interactions to nurture and grow relationships with customers. Customers want personalised experiences through intuitive interfaces— and this is exactly what IoT and AI can provide.
Pay attention to the voice of the customer (VoC): Companies need insights into emotional data through sentiment analytics, which can help craft meaningful customer experiences. Here, the combination of IoT data with traditional surveys and VoC responses can help brands develop an insightful understanding of their customers’ perceptions and expectations.
Keep your customers informed, proactively: IoT bridges the gap between what a customer anticipates and what the brand can actually deliver. By plugging these gaps proactively before they turn into complaints, dissatisfaction or abandoned carts, companies can not only improve the customer experience but also increase revenue. IoT will offer numerous opportunities for organisations to establish deeper customer relationships. As a strategic partner for digital transformation of organisations across the world, we are often asked how digital technologies will act as a differentiator for large brands in the future. My answer is always the same: Ultimately, technology is all about providing valuable intelligence to enhance customer service, build trust and loyalty and create new revenue streams—and this is what will set the winning companies apart in the hyper-digitised future.
The writer is senior vice president and global head of engineering services, Infosys