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5 Steps To Start Your IoT-Enabled Service Strategy

Daniel Foppen
Chief Contact Center Awesomeness Ambassador

There is plenty of buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT). There will be over 25 billion connected things by 2020. Soon we will be coming across hundreds of connected devices in our homes, at work and on the street.  The IoT is changing our lives.  This is exciting of course, but for many service professionals the question of how to actually start leveraging the IoT is not that easy. Yes, we know there is a lot of devices that are connected – more every second - but how does the head of customer care actually set up an infrastructure that allows them to reap the benefits of IoT?  As we are in the industry of delivering customer service experiences, we will focus on helping define a simple 5 step framework to start an IoT enabled customer service strategy.

So why IoT Enabled Service?

We should start by asking; why the interest in IoT enabled customer service?

The value of IoT enabled customer service is pretty straight forward… IoT enabled service provides a differentiated customer experience and it greatly reduces costs for the business.  Just think about a world where customer service isn't something you expect, but something you don't even think about anymore. What if service is automated and proactive? What will it mean for consumer loyalty to have a product that gets fixed before it becomes faulty or parts are replaced before the customer even notices the problem?  Similarly, think about how much it costs to handle all those thousands of incoming calls, e-mails, social media questions, live chats, etc. everyday about issues with devices. By connecting agents with the device, by enabling devices to auto-diagnose and even self-solve service the impact on the customer experience will be great. 

Furthermore, in the event a device or machine requires direct service, such as a visit from a field technician, IoT can again deliver a massive impact.  Taking into consideration that each field service truck roll can easily cost several hundred dollars, providing the field with IoT enabled remote diagnostics and asset history can dramatically reduce costs through unnecessary truck rolls.  In addition, when a field technician arrives on site for a job, he will already have an understanding of the potential problem and can bring the tools and parts to insure a first time resolution.

Making IoT Data Actionable!

The Internet of Things does not constitute a connectivity challenge, but a data challenge. In other words, to do something with the IoT you need to be able to manage the data.  A modern smartphone easily packs 10 sensors (multiply that by 2 BN smartphones today) and a modern car already has over 100 sensors.  A few years from now our homes will have hundreds of devices with a variety of sensors creating data. Just try to picture the scale of the data all those sensors will generate!

The big challenge with IoT for any business is not connecting to the devices, but rather in the collection and analysis of mountains of data. From this analysis customer service teams must identify events that require a service action.  All of this activity must occur in a cost effective and secure manner. Taking this into consideration, service teams must make sure their companies chosen IoT platform can support these requirements.

From Insight to Resolution

Understanding how insights from device data can help improve customer service processes is the next step.  If you are working in customer service, it should be pretty easy to find the low-hanging fruit.  Just ask yourself: “In which situations does the agent ask the customer for information about their device or machine?”  For instance, serial number, part-numbers, error codes, etc. Anywhere where the agents needs info from the device you’ve found yourself a potential use-case.

Once you have identified the most common issues that come into your engagement center today related to devices, analyze them and understand the impact each of these issues has on your business in terms of costs, customer experience and other values. This information will allow you to prioritize possible high impact IoT projects.

5 Steps To Get IoT Enabled Service Rolling

Step 1: Connect and Collect

Connecting your devices to a system that collects data is the first step. Connecting your devices isn't a big challenge, but we do recommend finding a platform that is both manageable and scalable. It is important to realize that the IoT is not static in nature. You'll need a platform that has elasticity to deal with big spikes of incoming data. Other considerations like security of data and the supported connections to devices are also very important.  Because of these considerations you will likely end-up with a cloud service, it will simply guarantee the most consistency, scalability, flexibility and low TCO.

Step 2: Analyze and Trigger

In addition to connecting devices to a system, you need a system than can actually do something with the data that connection provides. You will need a flexible system that enables real-time analysis of high-volumes of data. Data by itself is meaningless if it does not provide insights and action. Identify which insights are relevant and actionable when embedding those insights in service processes.  One of the bigger barriers to mainstream adoption of the IoT is the complexity of integration of such insights into processes. It helps if you have a service platform that’s robust and flexible. You’ll want a platform that’s easy to manage, yet allows strong capabilities to tailor to specific processes, extends and integrates with multiple systems.

Step 3: Set-up Device Service Processes

Setting up a device service process is pretty much the same as setting up a normal customer service process. But instead of asking the customer to do things like collecting data from the device, finding knowledge articles and trouble shooting flows, the device takes a much more prominent role.

We see there are three typical scenarios you can use to set up device service processes:

  1. Device-Assisted Self-Service. This is where the customer accesses knowledge and augments that with data from the device. Think going through a device registration process where the device automatically provides details such as serial numbers, install date, etc. to easily complete the registration process.
  2. Agent-Assisted Device Service. A device triggers a process to have an agent interact with the device to solve the problem. E.g. an agent that opens an incident created by the device and then inside the agent’s work environment interacts with the device to review settings, change configurations, reset the device, etc.
  3. Automatic Service. Here a device triggers an event and starts running service processes. These processes are built in such a way the devices can fully automatically troubleshoot, run through configurations, run diagnostics, change settings, reset and reboot, etc. I.e. processes that would previously take an hour to walk a customer through over the phone can now be performed in seconds.

Step 4: Empower Agents to Talk to Devices

Are your agents trained to talk to machines? IoT enabled service brings a whole new interaction paradigm for service agents. You will need to set up your processes accordingly. Provide the tools to help agents to become accustomed to interacting with machines, such as an agent scripting or visual screen guide. Also be sure to connect your agent work environments to enable interacting with the device to be able to do troubleshooting, remote configuration, set-up, resets, etc.  Also think whether your current KPIs set applies to interacting with devices. Typical contact center KPIs like First Time Resolution and Average Handling Time may not be applicable.

Step 5: Connect Field-Service Technicians

In many cases self-service and agent-assisted service won't be enough to solve a device’s problem and a field service technician needs to be dispatched to make a repair. These field events can occur with great efficiency,  by allowing contact center agents to directly schedule and dispatch technicians.  For example, let’s assume a VIP customer needs an issue resolved immediately.  You’ll want the contact center agent to create the service request, and have that request automatically routed to the nearest available technician, that has the tools, skills, and parts to solve the customers problem.  Furthermore, you’ll need to make sure the field technician has all the relevant customer information, and device information to insure a first time fix.  This scenario is becoming a fairly typical with service organizations where the contact center and the field service teams share the same platform.

Key Take Away’s

The Internet of Things is promising tremendous value for customer service organizations, yet it’s not always easy to start leveraging the IoT. We suggest the IoT is a data challenge, not a connectivity challenge. You will need a scalable and elastic service to collect data, a robust yet flexible system to analyze data in real-time to trigger support processes when needed. You’ll need a strong customer service platform that offers the extensibility and integration capability to embed data insights in support processes. A system that allows auto-diagnostics and that allows your service agents to troubleshoot and interact with the device, in a manner that’s easy for agents to adopt. You’ll also want a system that connects your customer service and field service teams to further streamline processes.

Coming to Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, Spain? Come and visit the Oracle Service Cloud product management team at the Samsung Enterprise booth in Hall #6. We will be happy to give you a complete demo that demonstrates all the 5 steps above on a single platform.

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