Report: IoT, AI Boost Customer Service


By: R. Scott Raynovich

A new industry report reflects broad interest in using the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) for customer service programs, though it indicates that customer service centers are struggling to connect IoT devices.

The research report published by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and Oracle, titled Next Generation Service: The Role of AI, IoT and Automation in Contact Center Transformation, indicates strong interest in IoT and AI technologies. Within the next 6-12 months, 57 percent of organizations intend to support or offer IoT/connected technologies -- a 21 percent increase, says the report.

In regards to AI, 41 percent of respondents expect their contact centers' use of bots/AI to increase in the next 12-18 months.

The report focuses on technologies affecting contact centers and the customer experience. The survey data came from more than 354 contact center professionals.

The AI & IoT Impact

What's driving this adoption? The perception that the technologies are having a positive impact on serving customers. The report says that organizations offering IoT/connected technologies reported a 50 percent increase in customer satisfaction, while 44 percent of organizations offering IoT/connected technologies reported satisfaction remaining the same.

"The increased presence of connected devices and artificial intelligence in the contact center is inevitable. Contact centers are wise to look toward the future and make it a priority to adopt new technologies that support these capabilities," said Justin Robbins, group director, content & community, ICMI, in a prepared statement.

The report concludes that IoT and connected product data can enable an organization or contact center to differentiate themselves in the service experience. This could be used as a competitive advantage.

Device Connectivity Delay

But it's not clear that everybody is ready to leap. More than half (58 percent) of the customers surveyed own at least one connected device, while only 36 percent of contact centers currently support connected technologies. Some 65 percent of contact centers remain reluctant to utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI).

One conclusion of the data is that companies will have to ramp up their support of IoT devices if they want to leverage the technologies. Currently, only about half of all contact centers surveyed are leveraging the data from connected devices and 51 percent of contact centers use data from connected sources to help with real-time metrics, KPIs, and customer data.

But the report says that change is coming. According to excerpts released:

"Within the next year, the percentage of organizations supporting IoT is expected to jump from 36 percent to 57 percent. Two-thirds (67%) of contact centers have had to train agents to handle customer interactions differently because they now offer or support IoT/connected technologies.
Offering or supporting IoT/connected technologies increased agent satisfaction in 40 percent of contact centers, while 53 percent report satisfaction remaining the same. Fifty-two percent of organizations consider service to be their primary competitive differentiator; 31 percent considered it to be their product, while just 17 percent considered it to be their price."

The report data was collected from 354 contact center professionals from a variety of business sectors, including communications, financial, healthcare, legal, and retail. More information can be found on the ICMI website.

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