When is the last time you contacted the manufacturer of your product?  Was it when you purchased the product maybe a decade ago? More interestingly, when is the last time you told your appliance what to do? Or how and what to inform you when it is ready (e.g. an oven heated for a specific temperature)? And when is the last time your connected devices, such as your thermostat started to learn your preferences and adjust accordingly? Too farfetched? Not quite. This is happening now and these types of use cases have started to go main stream as our homes, cars, appliances, utilities, and services, such as healthcare via wearables, become increasingly connected – and smart! Physical device connectivity and intelligence is transforming the customer experience!

We alluded to this digital transformation of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in a previous post. Here, we expand upon the omni connected device use cases.

Internet of Things (IoT) can provide sensing, monitoring, and control of devices in your car, home, person, enterprise or industry. But beyond these powerful capabilities, IoT is also changing the modes and models of interaction between the consumer and the product or service provider. In this post we delve deeper into the transformational potential of omni-device interactions for CRM.

Omni-device is really a specialization of omni-channel – leveraging Internet of Things.

Omni-Channel: omni means “all encompassing”. In the context of CRM, it means supporting different channels and all modes of interactions between a service or solution provider and the customer. This means the customer is able to interact via a browser, mobile device,  service representative, IVR, or other channels consistently.  This “consistency” means that the experience of the customer involving the capabilities of the solution is similar (unless there is a reason to provide a different channel-dependent experience). For example, the customer can get a discount or promotion independent of the channel. Omni also means they can start an interaction through one channel and then switch to continue through another seamlessly – while maintaining the context of the interaction. For instance, in an insurance application, an insured or claimant interaction can start in one channel (say a tablet) and move to another channel (e.g. a browser) with full context.

Omni-Device: With the rise of Things, devices in our homes (e.g. appliance), connected vehicles, workplaces, or connected wearables are also becoming channels. What does omni-device mean and how does it manifest itself with IoT? There are three essential omni-device capabilities that provide significant potential in optimizing and transforming the customer experience through IoT:

  1. Customer – Device Interaction: Manufacturing and High Tech companies are realizing the tremendous potential of smart connected devices for applications such as connected homes, connected vehicles or industrial applications. GE for instance is adding if-then smarts and intelligence to connected appliance to allow the consumer the ability to declaratively indicate what they want to do with the appliance: turn itself off after 20 minutes; inform via text message if the oven is heated; and so on. The connected devices will of course provide both sales as well as promotional marketing upsell, cross sell opportunities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The GE connected appliance solution illustrates a direct linkage between the appliance and its components (e.g. the filter in the refrigerator). There are also other markets that could easily be associated with connected or even unconnected devices augmented with connectivity for products or services. Amazon for instance has introduced the Amazon Dash button for popular products (e.g. detergents). It allows you to repurchase an item with the click of a button - very conveniently.                                                                
  2. Things as CRM Channels: IoT devices from refrigerators to connected cars are also becoming channels. Just as a mobile device or a browser is used to handle customer service, Internet of Things or devices can also be used to promote products, services, cross-sell, or upsell. For instance, automobiles connected through 4G LTE connections can offer WiFi as well as vehicle diagnostics and maintenance opportunities. However, this connectivity also provides opportunities for advertising, sales, and marketing – all convenient for the consumer. For instance                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 GM’s OnStar Advisor can find and reserve a hotel that is close to where you are. It can leverage geolocationing and reflect the profiles and preferences of the customer. OnStar also introduced AtYourService earlier this year. Now different companies can promote their products and services using OnStar on the connected vehicle as a channel: with all the customer geolocation, profile, and preferences offering the next-best-action in a particular context.
  3. Connecting with Manufacturers: The third use case deals with the connectivity of the consumer with the manufacturer of the devices. With the emergence of connected products, manufacturers are now much closer to the consumers: the sensors are providing incredible feedback on how the device is being used as well as the preferences of the consumer. There is of course healthy discussions and concerns on privacy and security. Nevertheless, this connectivity and continuous sensor feedback is in fact transforming the relationship between the manufacturer and the consumer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Take maintenance for example. With Digital Prescriptive Maintenance, leveraging IoT, manufacturers have the ability to quickly analyze real-time events and act upon discovered models from Big Data in the context of end-to-end dynamic cases. The resulting DPM orchestrates the creation of value for the customer and the manufacturer. It improves the customer service and provides opportunities for the manufacturer to innovate with new products or services, given all of the sensor as well as maintenance history of the connected devices.

CRM is about managing the relationship between a company that is offering products or services and its customers. Omni-channel is essential for optimized customer experiences. Omni-device is the natural yet powerful extension of omni-channel with ubiquitous smart connected devices.  Manufacturers and service providers are now much closer to the consumer and are better able to deliver more customized and appropriate next best actions, offers, as well as optimize their goods and services for the connected consumer.  These new capabilities can help an enterprise be more responsive and evolve based on the context as well as the behavior and preferences of the consumer and their devices. A new and exciting era of evolved Customer Relationship Management is upon us: from omni-channel to omni-device.