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How to prepare your CRM system for a world of smart devices

Erika Morphy | Aug. 26, 2014
As they get ready for the era of IoT, companies must remember to include CRM in the mix.

"The product in question will help the owner learn how to use its various features -- greatly limiting the need for service desks -- and be able to assess the skill level and interests of the consumer." Fulkerson gives the example of one digital camera that is purchased by someone with the idea of taking weekend shots of friends and gatherings. Another customer might purchase the same camera to enter work in contests. Yet that same device will be capable of steering these two users along different self-learning paths based on their varying needs and wants.

Then the camera will start to make recommendations, Fulkerson says. It could be something as simple as telling the weekend photographer that a certain filter, which can be downloaded at that moment for 99 cents, would improve the photo he is attempting to take. Or more elaborate advice could be provided based on aggregated social media content, Fulkerson says.

There is good news and bad news for CRM in this brave new world. 

What this means for CRM

First, the good news. Today's contact centers and contact center systems are advanced enough to take on the task of incorporating devices into their operations, says Ross Daniels, senior manager and Product Marketing at Cisco Systems.

"Making automation a big part of the customer experience is already underway--we are seeing that with the newer home appliances equipped with sensors and connections to the Internet," he tells CITEworld. That GE stove with the smartphone connection may be nice but get ready for the next stage, as Daniels sees it: a refrigerator, for example, will know that the vegetables aren't crisping as they should and automatically send out a work flow to a local repair center -- which will then email the consumer to see about setting up a service appointment. "Sensors will be generating all sorts of new data, we know that," he says. Companies with advanced analytics and reporting applications should be able to configure them to interpret and act on this new set of data, he says -- and that includes the call center.

But companies will need to change their attitude towards service, Tien Tzuo, CEO of Zuora tells CITEworld. Right now service is just a cost center for manufacturers, but in the future it will be how companies differentiate themselves from a world of otherwise cookie-cutter products, he says.

It is ironic in a way: as cars and refrigerators and stoves and cameras become more advanced and more connected, human service will be the greatest differentiator. It will be like the CD of ten years ago, he says. "No one buys CDs anymore -- but next-gen streaming services are thriving because they are customizable to music tastes and social network recommendations."


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