The next level of evolution of the multi-channel contact center which is impacting customer experience has already been around the corner for a while but not fully integrated. Machine to machine (M2M) communications has been an important aspect of solutions like fleet management, logistics and healthcare for a while and is witnessing rapid adoption across sectors like retail, e-commerce and manufacturing. While traditional use was limited to inventory and supply chain management, today M2M along with intelligent data analysis has the potential to bring in digital customer experience with further evolution from Internet of Things (IoT) to Intelligence of Things.
In the insurance sector for example, an M2M-enabled “pay-as-you-drive” car insurance system lets insurers have real-time visibility of driver behaviour. This in-depth information lets the insurer act on actual vehicle use, with responsible drivers reaping the benefits in the form of reduced premiums. This is a great example of how the IoT can leverage the valuable data captured from the devices and deliver the customer a very personalized service.
M2M technology is helping companies streamline product and service offerings, enhancing bottom lines and increasing revenues, while simultaneously letting them deliver a better customer experience. The potential growth for this segment is substantial. The Asia Pacific M2M market alone is forecasted to reach $15 billion by 2018, at a CAGR of 26.5 percent, with growth being shared across multiple verticals. Connected devices globally will reach 40.9 billion in 2020, more than double current numbers. Gartner projects that the processing, sensing and semiconductor device segment will grow 36.2 percent this year – so with all of this monitoring and data-gathering going on, proactive customer service will take center stage.
Real time in the real world
If, like me, you’ve been frustrated when trying to get a taxi at a busy airport, M2M is your friend here too. Aéroports de Paris has implemented M2M technology to optimise the flow of taxis through its terminals at Charles de Gaulle Airport, which has delivered shorter waiting times for both customers and taxi drivers, improved airport management and of course more continually-mined data to allow ongoing improvements.
Not only about service
While it’s evident that customer experience is enhanced by M2M, there is another benefit - customer service is greatly enhanced and so too is a company’s marketing. This pre-emptive problem solving gives organizations the opportunity to upsell products and services and to introduce new offers to satisfied customers. See the retail sector for a great example – customers can now predefine shopping lists, and via M2M and e-commerce, have their groceries delivered automatically. When you have a busy job and a couple of kids, this extra hour or two saved is a golden benefit.
Bringing the field into the command center
This is what M2M is enabling. It’s giving companies far better visibility of customer behaviour and access to incredible amount of data from the field that lets them improve operations – both at service and at marketing levels. It has created the next level of interaction management; what began with the telephone, then fax, then email, then chat and instant messenger continued through Facebook and Twitter to ultimately arrive at M2M. It is taking the engagement from being reactive to being predictive and proactive…
Consumer data and need can now be monitored and managed proactively – from grocery shopping to health data, driving information to workplace safety – to deliver a new customer experience. It helps us personalise services while capturing valuable data which in turn lets us push back personalised services to the customer.
By deploying M2M technology within the value chain we are able to reduce the costs of at least one link in that chain, to enhance the customer experience and improve brand and also drive competitive advantage. Welcome to the next level of customer interaction.
To reference another Gartner prediction, M2M is going to become rapidly central to customer service interactions; automated solutions and tools will dramatically reduce the number of customer interactions that need human involvement. In 2014, around 60 percent of interactions needed a support agent to assist – in the next 2 years this will be reduced by almost half thanks to the introduction of self-service, self-care, alerts and mobile device services.
Haytham is an industry enthusiast specializing in technologies that are capable of transforming customer experience and enhancing operational efficiency. With over 15 years of experience in ICT industry across different continents, he appreciates the diversity in consumer behavior and the impact technologies like IoT, applications, analytics and contact centers are making in shaping businesses globally.