Customer Experience

Your customers don't trust you enough for IOT

March 2019

The internet of things (IoT) is the service industry's buzz-word of the moment but, in reality are your customers ready for it? This blog explores some of the forgotten pitfalls.

No doubt you've heard the hype in the service industry surrounding the potential for the Internet of Things (IoT) to revolutionise field service and the customer experience.

Much of that hype is justified, but a big part of the picture is being forgotten.

If the appliances we buy for our homes can regularly report measurements to the manufacturer, it is theoretically possible to predict failures before they occur.  Maybe it even allows for the manufacturer or a service company to apply a remote fix meaning the need for a home visit is removed.  All great news right?  Maybe...

Picture the scene.  You're sat at home watching The Crown and you get a phone call from your dishwasher manufacturer.

"Hi, this is Steve calling from DishWashCo, we've detected a problem with your dishwasher, and there's likely to be a problem within the next few days.  Can we book an appointment to come take a look?"

"Oh really?  That's odd; I haven't noticed anything wrong; the dishes are still coming out sparkling, there are no unusual noises."

"Our systems say there's a 90% likelihood that the unit will fail in the next two weeks, so please can we book an appointment to do some maintenance before that happens?"

The conversation could go one of two ways from this point.

"You know what, I think I'll take my chances."


"Ok, let's get something booked in."

The service company or manufacturer has a rather delicate line to tread now, in both scenarios.

"I'll take my chances."

The customer says they'll take their chances and the unit does in fact break.  

Did they just invalidate their warranty by turning down the preventative maintenance?

Do they suspect you of doing some remote tampering to prove the point?

Or do they think, "This remote service stuff is kind of cool, I'll pay attention next time"?

"Ok, book it in."

In the second scenario, you schedule the appointment with the customer (using some smart quota management, nice customer-friendly 2-hour timeslots and arrive on time, of course).  Your engineer looks at the unit, and two further scenarios present themselves:

1.  The unit is fine after all; maybe the sensor was misreporting the water temperature.  So the customer has booked time off work to be in for a speculative preventative maintenance appointment that ultimately wasn't needed.

2.  The unit needs a new part (hopefully it's in the engineer's van having been preordered based upon the sensor readings).  If it's under warranty, there's no problem here but what if it isn't?  Now the customer needs to pay to have a part replaced having never actually experienced a problem.  How do they know they're not being taken for a ride?

As you can see, there's a lot of buzz about the smart technology that enables IoT to work and revolutionise our lives and the businesses that help maintain the appliances we rely on, but there's much less talk of the real customer experience.

If you're a company about to delve into IoT, you need to think carefully about how you design the customer experience. You must build deep trust in your brand, and customers must understand the benefits, and their own commitments when becoming part of your IoT strategy.

As we so often say to our clients technology can be the easy part; people are so much trickier.
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