You’ve probably heard it a million times, especially since you’re running a product business. That’s how critical it is – you either make or lose business on how you engage your customers and the way you’re running it might soon turn obsolete. Here’s why and how, the internet of things will be your secret sauce to offer intelligent services and create lifetime customers.
You know well that customer experience is on the line and in cases of high value products, it is even so critical for your company to have access to product control and data at any given time. You might also need to manage asset guarantees, service agreements and field-service contracts on time and a lot of that will depend on aggregated data from multiple, distributed sources and systems. This require businesses to not only realize ‘connected’ products but also offer continued support and maintenance across the product life cycle and its data and more so ever with customers who engage with it.
How does it help my product-company?
Things in the internet can range from a smaller tagged products like a box of apples with a RFID code attached to it, to varied connected products like a diesel generator powering a multi-storey building. Imagine you’re a garage business owner and the cars you service alert you of an engine problem before it occurs; or you’re a printer supplier and you require individual toner levels of printers across the Boston area, so you can schedule to place order and ship them ahead of time. There are a lot of cool use cases in IOT and we’re starting to see organizations embed technology in products (sensors, chips and tags in their assets), to remotely streamline and automate production, to track and manage shipments, essentially to process data and address negative quality trends *proactively* rather as a reaction to failure.
Cool, I connect my products in the internet. Now what?
Ultimately, you need to service your customers to drive growth. You need growth to drive newer revenue streams. And all this requires a fundamental level of understanding of your customer’s challenges. The more data you have on the consumer’s behavior towards your product, their usage and interaction with your team – the better are your products, the more unique are your services and more personalized are your interactions with them. In other words, collected data helps you create work processes, identify how your consumer’s product interacts with other products and lets you trigger automated actions across a number of machines, systems and people.
Okay but how does it actually improve my customer service?
Today, customer engagement is largely reactive. You call, chat or send emails *after* a problem occurs. But as more and more regular objects get augmented digitally, your agents can anticipate and self-diagnose product issues and alert users of impending problems and provide complete resolution. For example, your IOT solution tells you that Car ABC (which is a car you service) has battery levels below critical, you run a remote diagnosis – and by that you eliminate a layer of human intervention, saving support center’s time for those critical scenarios – you identify and mark it as a major issue, which automatically notifies your customer and assigns a maintenance staff to customer location based on availability/proximity/skill. Your staff checks on the car, detects all faulty parts, enters relevant remarks on his/her IOT mobile app and you learn that the battery requires a replacement. Your account manager is automatically prompted to check for warranty and place an order while communicating with your customer in real-time. Service and new order expenses are tracked and accounted for within your application, making it easier to view and manage your weekly outstanding dues. See, by layering connected services in your products, you begin to understand consumer challenges holistically – enabling you to create more value and deliver intelligent customer service.
Sounds great! Where do I get started?
Most businesses are in a quandary – they are aware of the fact that IOT holds great promise, they understand the benefits of innovative revenue streams and efficient operations, and yet, are still quite resistant to move forward without being able to quantify a clear ROI. The first step is to decide, if, when and where in your business can IOT be implemented. Next, is to draft a business strategy that weighs down the cost of deploying IOT against the costs saved by creating value from it. ROI is so loaded in the context of IOT that unless you understand the comprehensive total cost of ownership in automating and delivering a service, its difficult to realize its honest benefits.
Your teams depend on varying levels of data and you need to make information accessible to the right set of people, easily and timely. So the question isn’t about whether or not to offer connected products, rather – how do you blend and organize data from connected products, in a unified way? And a lot of that will depend on the software platform you choose to manage your business on, one that may well be in place for years and one that aggregates data across the last-mile and from existing multi-vendor business systems – saving you from expensive deadend dashboard, long support-service hours and disparate management silos. To stay in the game, businesses will need to thrive in this new technological shift – using consumer and product data to predict and analyze machine and people interaction to deliver better service.
At Zoho Symphony, we’ve been hard at work crafting the whole package – an edge-to-cloud IOT solution, that doesn’t stop with just connecting and monitoring your remote/mobile products, but also ensures that you deliver improved business service, create new value and provide better customer engagement. You can support more customers, manage your expenses, bridge productivity gaps between teams and grow you business – all with the single, unified Symphony IOT connected business interface.