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The State of IoT-Enabled Customer Experiences: Genesys Report Affirms Opportunities Though Progress is Slow

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Four years following on the publication of the original “State of Customer Experience” in 2017, Genesys this week released an updated report, which examines consumer preferences and how businesses are approaching customer experience (CX).

Genesys commissioned an independent research firm to conduct a global survey of 690 CX executives and 2,629 adults over the age of 18 between April and May 2021.

This 2021 report analyzes trends in consumer expectations, where businesses are getting it right, and where they’re getting it wrong.

Increasingly, businesses see customer experience as the main driver of consumer trust and loyalty, so much so that it has become a board-level priority for more than half (58%) of companies in the study.

The comprehensive report includes mentions of the intersection of the IoT and CX, with intelligent, connected devices able to initiate “conversations,” going beyond voice-activated assistants (which are also covered in the report) to applications including smart appliances programmed to automatically initiate interactions with a brand.

Voice remains the most-used channel (68%), but digital channels are surging, the report says, including the number of consumers interacting with customer service through messaging, mobile apps, chatbots, social media, and video calling which more than doubled between 2017 and 2021.

Voice-activated assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are rising in popularity — one in 10 consumers worldwide have interacted with customer service through these devices.

But when it comes to machine-to-human interactions, IoT-based deployments have stayed in the planning phase.

Many organizations are developing sensors, devices, or other technologies that can communicate independently with customer support. However, deployment of these devices has been slower than was anticipated in 2017, according to the research.

That said, an encouraging quarter of CX leaders said their organizations have implemented IoT capabilities for CX, and an additional one-third have developments in progress.

As with any quality CX initiatives, the report says a solid understanding of the customer journey and the orchestration of that journey is critical in the development and implementation of IoT-related applications, with truly conversational interfaces to keep customers engaged and make them feel heard and understood.

Just as “clunky bots frustrate customers” and can do more harm than good, companies embarking on sensor-based, automated customer service interactions are encouraged to think through the journey and create interactions that are efficient and pleasant.

Just as the right bots can scale from handling simple questions to common transactions and eventually extend their value by providing recommended resources or products based on contextual data, IoT-based innovations have the potential to make customers’ lives easier.

A simple example is a water heater that can sense a temperature issue and can send text messages to the owner and to a local service technician, then help orchestrate a service visit all in a single, simple workflow.

“Companies need to break down silos and unify data to orchestrate bots across the entire customer journey seamlessly to benefit sales, marketing, and service,” the report says, which “will enable tailored web experiences according to the specific customer, match customers with employees, and support employees with context and next-best actions.”

IoT sensors add to the data that can predict problems and solve them before they become problems; as the number of devices in smart homes continues to grow, forward-looking brands are investing in creative applications that deepen relationships with customers and keeping their businesses and products competitive.

CX budgets are increasing for nearly three-fourths of businesses, the study also says, with seventy-one percent of respondents receiving a budget increase in 2021 and about one-fifth seeing a budget increase of 50% or more.

Businesses continue to invest in new technologies to better orchestrate the customer experience — and are most excited for tools that support and improve agents’ abilities to deliver great service. Leaders see predictive analytics (59%), agent-assist technology (58%), quality management, and workforce optimization (57%) as the most valuable new technologies in managing the customer experience.

One-third of businesses are offering customer service through virtual home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Another 29% plan to integrate customer service on this channel within the next six months. As the highest-rated channel in customer satisfaction (46%), virtual home assistants show significant opportunities to enhance customer experience and pave the way for connected customer service that enhances the connected living experience.

Published State of Customer Experience 2021 is an ongoing series of consumer and business research related to customer experience (CX). This is the second global survey, executed in April and May 2021 on behalf of Genesys by an independent research firm. It includes insights from 2,629 consumers and 690 CX executives across multiple industries drawn from Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East,

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Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Luke Bellos

Special Correspondent

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