Everyone is talking about the Internet of Things (IoT), and for good reason. Connected machines and assets capture more data than many organizations can make use of. When it can be put to use, organizations often do so with an eye to improving operational efficiency, asset performance, or service delivery.
Aberdeen research has shown that the use of IoT technology does correlate with an increase in workforce productivity. In the last 12 months alone, the IoT has impacted workforce productivity by an average of 5%. Best-in-Class organizations have enjoyed a 12% increase in this time period, and those who have not yet seriously moved towards embracing the IoT have seen only a 1% increase.
While employing IoT to increase operational efficiency is a necessity, the real opportunity lies in using IoT technology to connect the customer to a better service experience. The Best-in-Class are moving from leveraging the IoT for efficiency benefits to a more customer-centric focus.
From Efficiency to Customer-Centricity
Across performance categories, serviceable assets and equipment remain the devices most heavily monitored by IoT systems. This would permit many firms to track device uptime, diagnose problems remotely, and mitigate time spent on-site, in many instances completing service requests entirely from a remote location.
Aside from that, leading firms also leverage IoT technology to map the position of their workers in order to track fleet location for accountability and customer experience purposes:
Interestingly, the Best-in-Class actually monitor workers, drivers and vehicles to a lesser degree than the industry average. While it’s important to know where your service workers are in the field and monitor the time they spend driving and servicing the customers, the Best-in-Class have a stronger focus on the actual parts and equipment they use. By focusing on assets and parts, they’re actually thinking more about the customer than they are about efficiency.
Monitoring your trucks and workers, mitigating downtime as much as possible, utilizing equipment to optimal capacity, etc. is efficiency-centric; monitoring customer’s equipment so you can be proactive with problems before they happen is customer-centric. When you boil it down, what’s most important to the customer is for the product to do what it’s supposed to do when it’s supposed to do it.
When there is an issue with the product’s performance, customers want the issue resolved as quickly as possible and on the first attempt. They do not want to go through the rigamarole of waiting on line, setting up an appointment, having the technician arrive late or bring the wrong part, not having the issue fixed the first time, etc. They want things fixed the first time, especially if the product is not working while the customer has to wait for them to come back again.
Customer Centricity Defines Strategic Actions
When leveled with an unfocused strategy, finding actionable solutions for utilizing data from IoT activities can be challenging. Higher performing service firms focus their actions on a specific grouping of tasks. For instance, the industry as a whole has a broader focus on timely invoicing and design upgrades, whereas Best-in-Class firms remain focused on customer needs and providing exceptional service.
As you can see, when it comes the last three items (Ensuring Timely/Accurate Billing, Monitoring Asset Usage Information for Repair, and Improving the Design of Products), the Best-in-Class only perform as well or worse than All Others. But where they beat the others are the three categories that customers care most about: Resolving Disputes with Customers, Providing Customers with Diagnostic Information for Self-Service Opportunities, and Monitoring Product Uptime or Utilization for SLAs.
Customers want disputes and maintenance issues resolved as quickly as possible, and they want the products to live up to its promises. Ensuring timely invoices, monitoring usage information and improving product design are necessary and important, but they’re more important to the organization than the customer. It’s no coincidence that the Best-in-Class are seeing an annual improvement in first-time fix rates that is more than three times that of the Industry Average, and seeing marked improvements in customer retention.
To Be Best-in-Class, Put the Customer First
Companies that have adopted a customer-centric approach to IoT technology reap significant rewards when it comes to customer service performance. Leading organizations use IoT data to ensure that assets continue to perform as required, and preventive maintenance is initiated when needed. Excelling in those areas that matter most to customers ultimately leads to higher revenues and customer retention.
For a more in-depth look into how Best-in-Class companies are adopting a customer-centric strategy for leveraging the Internet of Things, check out this comprehensive report.