Did you know that the explosive growth of smartphones and tablet PCs in the last decade resulted in 12.5 billion devices being connected to the Internet? That’s almost twice as many as the world’s 6.8 billion people! According to Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the point in time when there are more devices or ‘things’ connected to the Internet than people. While the potential revenue that this creates varies from company to company, more than 60% of IT and business leaders agree that the IoT will have long-term transformative effects on their businesses.
The IoT is a game changer, impacting the economy in more ways than one. As devices connected to the Internet continue to skyrocket, it is imperative that companies have the back-end capacity to handle the huge volume of information that technology will generate. And call centers are no exception.
Take a look at 7 ways that telephone answering services need to scale up and evolve right alongside the IoT.
- Ability to Handle Text Messages: Instead of wasting time dialing a contact center and waiting for an agent to respond, callers will let their devices handle routine tasks for them. This may include one-touch text messages for service requests, or even sending call-back requests. Answering services would need the capability to apply automated customer service rules to parsed messages, prioritize them, and route them to the appropriate agent.
- Amazing Agents: With IoT making customer service go to a more self-service, self-repair model, those calls that do reach the agents will need to be expertly handled. Great customer service will be the basis for interactions, but amazing interactions will need specialized agents. For the answering service, this means a focus on dedicated agents who have in-depth training in the brands they represent. The more that systems themselves are able to repair routine issues, the more that highly complex technical issues will require ninja-level customer service agents.
- Device-to-Device Interaction: Soon, answering services will be managing service requests entirely from devices. Devices at contact centers would directly connect to CRM systems, relay the necessary information, or perform transactions without the need for any human intervention. This does not mean that agents would completely disappear. Instead, contact centers would need to hire agents who can handle complex queries while maintaining the personal touch that consumers want.
- Proactive Service Delivery: As the IoT evolves, household devices connected to the Internet will be able to send service requests directly for maintenance and repair. In turn, answering services could use sophisticated route planning, prioritization algorithms, and rule bases to schedule how the maintenance engineers would respond to these requests.
- More Complex Infrastructure: Contact centers of the future will be the ones willing to invest heavily in the right technology to enable complex data analysis and predictive modeling, not to mention the need for heightened privacy and security requirements. With respect to customer data, answering services will be poised to compile mountains of data about consumer customer support habits as well as product deficiencies. Whatever issues arise from your connected device, in an inbound capacity, the call center will be well-prepared to address those calls lightning fast as an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction. Answering service agents can proactively reach out to customers once trends surface.
- Ecosystem-Level Collaboration: Collaboration between departments and service channels would be a given, but winning businesses would go one step further. Contact centers would be leveraged to collaborate across their ecosystem, working closely with vendors and customers, and offering completely personalized solutions.
- Strategic Business Partner: Contact centers can already monitor a number of customer service channels, and with the IoT wave, centers would become strategic business partners. The insights obtained from the analysis of device interactions would determine the future course of business – be it new products, new features, or even new geographies that the company should target.
However large the IoT becomes, answering services and contact centers will always play a critical role in ensuring customer loyalty and business growth. When products can repair themselves, customer service interactions will need to be both proficient and proactive. As customers continue to expect fast customer service, choosing the right center for your business is fundamental to your continued success in the rapidly changing era of the Internet of Things.