All of a sudden, in the middle of a washing cycle of jeans for the whole family, your brand-new IoT-connected washer stops working. The control panel doesn’t work, your smartphone doesn’t talk to the washer anymore, and at that very same moment your daughter shouts through the house, “Mom, have you seen my favorite jeans?” Who do you call to help you out in this family crisis situation? Miele, Samsung, Apple, your internet provider? Is it the machine? Is it the smartphone? The Wi-Fi modem? The internet connection? Do you Google for help?

Today in many parts of the world, we have over 10 devices in our possession that have an internet connection, with many of them also connected to each other. A trend loosely defined as the Internet of Things has slipped into our pockets through many apps controlling your car, home security, light bulbs or sound system – all made by different manufacturers and all relying on several data connections that you as a user need to set up, maintain and secure.

The number of causes explodes

With an IoT washer like in the example above, the problem can be in more than one place:

  • The connected washer’s hardware or software
  • The washer’s app running on the smartphone
  • The smartphone’s hardware or software
  • The Wi-Fi access point
  • The broadband internet connection
  • The home automation server (like a Loxone Miniserver, Gira Homeserver, Samsung SmartThings Hub)

So, the number of root causes for an IoT problem increases from 2 to 5 or even 6. In fact, it’s more of a chain of connections, rather than a single connection like with a smartphone running on the mobile network, and they are oftentimes interdependent. This leads to an exponential increase in possible causes.

Customer service headache

At Qelp we have been dealing with smartphone customer service issues for our clients since 2005. Today we are seeing connected devices, the Internet of Things, quickly becoming the new reality. This is potentially a customer service nightmare and creates a number of business dilemmas, such as:

  1. Which vendor or provider is the “natural” helpdesk for the consumer to start with?
  2. Should you help the consumer only with the device or service that you have provided, or do you also try to help with other parts of the chain?
  3. Are you offering only online support or contact center support as well?
  4. Which support do you offer in house; what support is suitable to outsource?

These choices will not only affect your customer support costs either. What will this do to your online customer experience, the Average Handling Time in your contact center, the Net Promoter Score of your brand, and the loyalty of your customers?

Customer service strategy

Like any business headache or nightmare however, this is also a huge opportunity. The IoT customer service challenge goes back to the question: what’s the customer service strategy of your company? Reducing cost because you are a price fighter in the market? Increasing loyalty, reducing churn? Or using customer service as a differentiator, exceeding customer expectations, generating word of mouth and winning new customers?

At Qelp, together with SYKES and Clearlink, we are more than happy to share our experience with you in a discussion or workshop, to help draft a strategy and identify gaps and tools needed to support your strategy.

Gartner: 26 B. connected devices in 2020

According to Gartner, the IoT market will grow to 26 billion connected devices in 2020, excluding PCs, tablets and smartphones. As the number of connected units in households grows, more and more devices will become interconnected to handle ever-more complex tasks.

Unboxing experience

In the last few weeks engineers at Qelp have tested two IoT Washers:

  • The Samsung WW12K8402OW/EN
  • The LG FH612CTWD

And guess what? We couldn’t get either washer running on an internet connection and controlled by a smartphone! In a separate article in the coming weeks, we’ll share a summary of our “unboxing” experience of these two washers.