From bike and home locks to irrigation and air conditioning systems, “smart” devices are present in many aspects of our daily lives. How these interconnected devices, otherwise known as the Internet of Things (IoT), will continue to shape our lives is yet to be seen, but it is already proving to be an invaluable tool for understanding – and thereby improving – customer experience.

There are several ways brands can harness the IoT to help turn would-be or one-time customers into loyal, repeat buyers and even brand ambassadors. From innovative delivery options to improved wait times, the IoT can provide insights to inform customer experience strategies in exciting new ways.

Voice of the Customer
Before big data, marketers relied on Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs to understand customers’ opinions. Yet this tactic, based on asking consumers direct questions, is limited because data is primarily based on emotions, rather than tangible facts. The IoT, on the other hand, can provide more objective data by bypassing the consumer altogether and asking questions of connected devices such as printer ink levels and mobile phone sensors. In this way, the IoT can provide contextual data to identify more effective touchpoints in the customer journey. This is not to say that traditional surveys should be abandoned altogether, but rather used in combination with IoT data to build a better understanding of customers’ perceptions, expectations and needs in order to improve overall customer experience.

The IoT can also provide insight into how your customers are using—or not using—your products so you can improve them proactively or plan future upgrades.

Managing Customer Expectations
Customer experience suffers when customer expectations go unmet. By managing these expectations, marketers can improve overall customer experience. The IoT can help with this in several ways. For example, waiting for a package is a common and frustrating issue for customers. In fact, recently almost half of a major online fashion retailer’s inbound customer questions concerned locating deliveries. The retailer reduced these inquiries by 80 percent by sending regular delivery updates to customers’ smart devices. Although delivery times didn’t change, the IoT served as a bridge for the disconnect between customers’ experience expectations and what the company could actually deliver. Finding and preventing experience gaps like delivery times before they turn into complaints and abandoned transactions is a key area where IoT can help brands make lasting customer experience improvements.

Building Customer Connections
The IoT also makes it possible for companies to connect with customers in meaningful new ways. Things like text alerts, invitations and incentives delivered to specific customers at specific times allows for levels of personalization that were not possible only a few years ago. Not only can you offer incentives and special offers, the IoT can also help you make life easier for customers with reminders about items that need to be replaced or restocked or up-coming maintenance.

If the challenge of providing omni-channel support and experience can sometimes seem like an insurmountable challenge, the IoT is the best possible tool for bringing coherence to seemingly disparate channels. It can show us what customers really want, when, and how they want it, while also providing unlimited potential for engaging customers. To learn more about how you can successfully leverage the IoT to improve customer experience, contact Optimum CX today.