The Internet of Things, also commonly referred to as the IoT for short, is a concept that involves a network of countless devices that are not only constantly creating data, but are sharing that information with one another at virtually all times.
It’s a concept that has already been seen in places like manufacturing environments to great effect. If a mission critical piece of machinery is equipped with a sensor that is constantly monitoring its status, organizational leaders can be notified immediately if it suddenly goes offline. More than that, they know exactly when to prioritize actions like preventative maintenance – thus allowing them to handle these tasks during the least disruptive periods of the day.
According to one recent study, in 2021 alone there were already more than 10 billion devices that were actively connected to the Internet of Things. By as soon as 2030, that number is expected to climb to 25.4 billion. It’s a technological revolution that has the potential to impact virtually every industry that you can think of – but one of the most exciting is what is happening in terms of the IoT and call centers.
The Nexus Between IoT and Call Centers: Breaking Things Down
Call centers themselves are a crucial part of any business for a wide array of different reasons.
For starters, they maintain an important relationship between that brand and its customers. They help guarantee that there is always someone there to answer an important question or address a pressing concern. They help show people that businesses actually care about them, which in turn breeds a significant amount of trust and loyalty as well.
But to create the most efficient and most productive environment, call center employees need to be able to deal with the massive volumes of data that are being created on a daily basis. They need to be able to wade through all of the information that each call generates to understand someone’s status, what they need, what they want and what a business can do to better serve them.
That, in essence, is where the Internet of Things comes into play. Thanks to the IoT, call center employees can now access data from virtually any device without the customers needing to exert any extra effort on their part. All information is available in a centralized repository that can be accessed anywhere, on any device, at any time.
Think about the last time you called into a customer service hotline with a problem. Not only did you probably get bounced around from person to person, but it’s also likely that you had to repeat yourself and your story a multitude of times. With the Internet of Things and the right Customer Relationship Management system, you don’t have to worry about things like that. Suddenly every employee is “the right employee to talk to” because they all have access to the same information. This creates a far better experience on behalf of the customer, which only serves to improve the reputation of the brand as well.
But in a larger sense, one of the major reasons why the Internet of Things is so important to the future of call centers has to do with how it is helping brands build a true omnichannel customer experience in every sense of the term. Think about the sheer number of different ways in which someone can contact a business. They can use social media. They can pick up the phone and make a call. They can go into a physical retail location should one be available.
These shouldn’t be three separate experiences – they should be one in the same. If someone asks a question on social media, they shouldn’t then have to jump through hoops should they decide to continue the issue on a phone call. With the IoT, customers can engage in any way they want – including via multiple channels – all without missing a step.
This is largely accomplished through a concept called smart data, which is a combination of the IoT and related technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Again, the right Customer Relationship Management system is going to be crucial in this process. But through such an investment, a business can virtually guarantee a smooth customer experience at all times – whether someone is communicating via social media, email, telephone or all at the exact same time. Not only can this save a tremendous amount of time on behalf of all parties involved, but it can also reduce friction at various parts of the process as well.
Call Centers and the IoT in the Age of Remote Work
Finally, one of the most essential ways in which the IoT and call centers need to come together has to do with the idea of remote customer service: something that has proven to be particularly important given everything going on in the world right now.
More employees are working remotely than ever and while they don’t necessarily need to be sitting in front of a work terminal in the office to do their jobs, they do need access to the information contained on it.
Thanks to the Internet of Things, if they initiate an experience with a customer while working remotely, they do have access to that information the next time they go into a physical office (if applicable). Information is available anywhere, at any time, from virtually any device – leading to a situation where peak productivity is no longer a matter of “if.”
In the end, the Internet of Things is more than just a series of connected devices. It’s a vast network of hardware and software solutions that are coming together to make our lives easier. Many industries are already enjoying the benefits that this has to offer and, with luck, the call center industry will be next. Over the course of the next decade, the number of devices on the IoT will explode – and that is very much a good thing regardless of how you look at it.