How to improve customer experience with the internet of things


From paying for our daily commute with a flick of the wrist, ordering groceries via voice commands or remotely turning on the central heating, the internet of things is successfully transforming, modernising and improving everyday life.

It is already present in our homes, offices, possessions and, increasingly, on our high streets. For consumers, connected devices make ordinary actions ‘smarter’, and for marketers they could prove invaluable in delivering a superior customer experience (CX).

Future IoT-enabled devices have the potential to allow marketers to uncover limitless, innovative ways to understand and influence customer activity, behaviour, and buying trends.

Here’s how brands can harness the reach and popularity of the IoT to ensure customers are engaged, loyal and a source of repeat business, whether that’s through innovative delivery options to improving the queueing experience.

>See also: 6 critical questions to consider for your IoT CX strategy

Keep the customer updated  

Waiting in for a package is a common and frustrating issue. A major online fashion retailer recently revealed that almost half of inbound customer questions concerned locating their delivery. By sending regular status updates to customers’ smart devices, this company reduced these queries by a significant 80%.

While delivery times remained the same, customers’ ‘wait time’ expectations vastly improved. Fewer inbound questions also meant more time could be spent resolving other complaints, improving service standards across the board.

In this instance, the IoT provided a vital bridge for the disconnect between a customer’s anticipated experience and those that a business can actually deliver on. Finding and preventing these experience gaps before they turn into complaints and abandoned transactions is a key area where IoT can create a step-change for CX strategies.

Listen to the voice of the customer

Before big data, many businesses had a Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme to understand customers’ opinions of their brand. However, asking a consumer directly will only reveal a limited amount of information. Insights will be primarily based on emotions, rather than tangible facts, and this makes it difficult to tie survey results back to operational data such as order value or return rates.

Bypassing the consumer by asking their unbiased, connected devices is the next logical step, enabling brands to uncover new information that gives customer experiences deeper context. It’s not just about understanding what a customer does (store visits, buying behaviours etc.) but bringing together multiple data points to understand why they do it.

Unlike surveys, the IoT can bring rich, contextual data using everything from mobile phone sensors, to ink levels in the office printer. In turn, this can drive better analytics and identify more effective touchpoints in the customer journey. By combining such IoT data with traditional surveys and VoC responses, brands can build a far more insightful understanding of their customers’ perceptions, expectations and needs to optimise the customer experience.

Form an orderly queue

We’ve all experienced the frustration and boredom that comes with a long wait, from queuing at the till at the supermarket, to joining a line at the airport check in, to sitting at home for a delivery.

While crowds of people can be a sign of success, a poor waiting experience is one of the most complained about aspects of interacting with a brand. There’s only a certain amount of time someone will wait before they give up and go elsewhere or make the decision to never put themselves through that experience again.

One example of a company doing this well is Disney, whose MagicBand, worn on the wrists of visitors to the Magic Kingdom, features a long-range radio which can be picked up by the company’s ‘queue management’ task force. The team can then work out where customers are, what they are trying to do or see and how long they have been waiting for. Such insights allow the team to take appropriate action, all using readily-available and easy to obtain data.

IoT can help other companies resolve this issue by helping to monitor and predict their own in-store wait times, keeping customers informed of what to expect, suggesting a quieter time, or providing a distraction, such as a game or survey to complete while waiting.  Amusement parks have perfected this art with the ‘pre-show experience’ when customers are facing lengthy queues. Perception of wait time is greatly reduced when people are kept occupied.

>See also: How the Internet of Things will transform customer interaction

Think wearables for contextual information

In recent years, wearable technology has seen a significant rise in popularity and adoption throughout the consumer marketplace. But this technology can be used for far more than just tracking your daily steps.

Many hotels use a wristband system to give all-inclusive visitors quick and easy access to specific perks. Transforming these into wearable, IoT-enabled gadgets could offer much more than the ability to identify a hotel guest. By using the device’s contextual information, staff could interact with customers in a much more meaningful way.

Whether it’s proactively suggesting excursions (as they know they’ve already travelled ‘off resort’ recently), pre-empting dining room queues or presenting offers that relate to a guest’s personal preferences, this human-related data can deliver valuable insights into customer behaviour to better predict what they will do next and what they will best react and respond to.

The rich, contextual data provided by the IoT when combined with traditional experience feedback has the potential to allow brands to understand and interact with consumers in a whole new way, to uncover a greater number of – and more effective – touchpoints in the customer journey.


Sourced from Leonie Brown, customer experience strategist, Qualtrics

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...