computers - Vadim Sherbakov
photo by Vadim Sherbakov

The Internet of Things Can Give You a Customer Service Advantage

The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken off. For example, Amazon Web Services just acquired an IoT platform company in our good friends, 2lemetry. That type of move goes to show that IoT is becoming a major player in the tech world. Additionally,  Gartner predicts that by 2020 more than 26 billion “things” will be connected to the Internet, and IoT products and services will amount to more than 300 billion dollars. ABI Research is even a little more optimistic. They predict that there will be more than 30 billion IoT devices in 2020.

One area where the Internet of Things is poised to explode is customer service. By leveraging the data driven customer service and by using computer diagnostics built into a product with IoT communications technology, for example, you’ll be able to improve customer satisfaction by reducing downtime and maintenance costs.

Customer service will no longer be about reacting to a problem—companies can instead focus on proactively monitoring equipment and remotely fixing problems before customers are even aware that the problems exist. By heading off a problem before it is about to happen, preventive maintenance can be scheduled when it’s convenient and it reduces the number of expensive repairs.

There are many examples of how IoT technology can help improve customer service and customer satisfaction. Automobiles, for example, are currently capable of providing real-time diagnostic and location data, as well as usage data, such as vehicle speed, fuel consumption, and trip lengths. Logistics companies can provide location data in real time to their customers, helping customers keep track of when their shipments will come in, and car owners can receive instant alerts when they need to bring their vehicles in for service based on remote diagnostics data.

Industrial equipment can also benefit from the application of IoT technology. Motors and pumps that can provide real-time data on parameters such as operating temperature and electrical efficiency can help service technicians head off failures before they occur. So, for example, if a motor can alert technicians when it is about to fail and needs to be replaced, the technicians can schedule this maintenance for a time when production is not affected. By using IoT technology, customer service becomes proactive, not reactive.

Need a real-world example? DynaGen Technologies manufactures industrial controllers to “automatically start, monitor, and protect industrial engines and generators.” Before DynaGen, some of their clients in the oil and gas business would have to manually check on oil pump engines on a daily basis. And by “manually” we mean driving out to dozens of sites in the middle of nowhere to make sure an engine is functioning properly. They do this because if a generator goes down, it can cost some companies up to $100,000/hour. What if a generator goes down an hour after it’s daily check up? That means it will sit there for 23 hours, costing the oil producer $2.3 million! And that’s just one generator. DynaGen changes all that by making it possible to remotely control and monitor engines and generators. There’s no more need to do daily visits because if/when something goes wrong, the oil and gas company will know immediately and thy’ll be able to fix in a timely fashion [Click here for the whole story from Dreamforce 2014].

When failures do occur, IoT technology can help service organizations get systems and services up and running faster. Service technicians will be able to query devices before they go on-site to determine how a piece of equipment failed and bring the proper tools and spare parts. They will also have access to the service history of the equipment, which will help them troubleshoot the problem. The end result is lower service costs and equipment that is back online faster.

Improving customer service is certainly a challenge, but the benefits of using IoT technology are clear. You’ll be able to provide better customer service, and, in the end, that means more satisfied and loyal customers. 

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Carl Krupitzer

Carl is CEO and co-founder of ThingLogix

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