xoopslogo

Crossing the chasm for the Internet of Things

“Crossing the Chasm” is one of my favorite business books of all times. Geoffrey Moore describes the lifecycle of new technology adoption that, by now, should be familiar to everyone in high tech. One of the key points in the book is that there is a chasm in adoption between innovators and early adopters on the one side and the majority of users on the other side. In fact, in order to cross this chasm and achieve widespread adoption, a different way of marketing, selling and supporting the new technology is required.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the connected home, in particular, might now be facing this chasm. There are solid predictions that the IoT market is taking off and tens of billions of IoT devices will be deployed by 2020 – with at least half of them directly involving end consumers. For instance, Gartner predicts that 25 billion IoT connected devices will be installed by 2020. At the same time, industry analyst firm Parks Associates reports that 39% of consumers are experiencing problems with various smart home devices, and approximately 10% are experiencing more than one problem with each device. 

Such findings highlight the chasm between the early adopters of connected home technologies and the majority of households that are now next in line to buy these technologies. Parks Associates estimates that 40% of US broadband households are planning to buy a smart home product in the next 12 months. This chasm reflects the fact that we are transitioning from the tech-savvy initial IoT buyer to the less technologically adept one. It also reflects that IoT solutions themselves are transitioning from premium to mainstream purchases.

Here are five key areas that the IoT world (both businesses and consumers) needs to address in order to cross this chasm: Interoperability – It is still the case that despite multiple standards, IoT devices don’t talk well to each other. This limits the potential for new and exciting uses. Imagine your smart thermostat talking to your smart lock, or to smart sensors throughout your house, or to your connected vehicle and GPS (even though each device might be from a different provider) – in order to know when the house is empty so as to regulate temperature and achieve energy savings without your intervention. Different connectivity standards exist and are optimized for bandwidth, range or power consumption, but there is still some way to go for easy inter-connectivity across devices supporting different standards. In essence, the interoperability issue should not be viewed from the individual device perspective, but rather requires a more holistic view at a platform or hub level.

Security – IoT devices are perceived to be very personal because they can control access into our homes. And this obviously raises a lot of concerns about security. The scenario of someone hacking into a connected home’s security system (many of which are now online) and disabling security settings is a scary one. Or the idea of someone hacking into our smart phone that now drives both our virtual and physical world is no less scary. Recently, a team of security experts hacked into a Jeep vehicle as it was driving down the highway and brought it to a stop as part of a controlled experiment. How security is handled at the edge as well as in the cloud, and what mechanisms are available to safeguard against security breaches – or contain them when they happen – will be an ongoing (and difficult) effort. In the IoT, technology will be more pervasive, so the impact of security breaches will be much large 

Privacy – This is another important one. IoT devices can collect a lot of data that is sensitive at its very core, because it’s data about our lives. How individuals are identified, how devices are identified, how the collected data is treated in the cloud, and how transparent vendors and service providers are about the use of the data they collect, are all very serious issues. Although collecting data is key to vendors understanding customer behaviors and providing better use cases, consumers are very aware about their privacy when at home. And rightly so. At the same time, consumers need to be more careful and diligent when reviewing the fine print in the Terms & Conditions of these new products and services. Consumers should also understand that the person agreeing to the terms might be only one of the household members using the technology. According to a brand new survey by CABA, consumers view loss of privacy as the second greatest barrier (behind cost) to purchasing connected home products.

Support – The general idea is that IoT devices are meant to be very easy to connect, configure and use. However, they are also increasingly complex, which means that the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) model does not work as often as expected. What happens if the installation is complete but the solution does not work as planned? It is said that consumers have about 20 minutes of patience for learning to put a new technology to use. If they can’t get the technology to work within this time, they either return it or put it aside. For the connected home to succeed, these early customer experiences have to be successful for the consumers, and cushion set-up, configuration and use with access to meaningful, proactive, ongoing support (regardless of whether the solution was a professional install or a self install). These early customer experiences will influence buyers’ satisfaction and loyalty and – most importantly to the brands – their intention to adopt and use additional connected devices in their connected home.

Personalization – IoT devices are fully expected to adapt to our needs and become part of solutions that bring clear and tangible value to our lives. If we anticipate these devices to become mainstream, these expectations must be met, and met fully. But the true value is in the connections between these devices, rather than in the devices themselves. The inter-connectivity is what will enable truly personalized solutions for each household and each consumer. There are a couple of points to make about this. The first one is around the user interface to control these inter-connected devices. In the short- to medium-term future, it is unlikely that there will be a single interface concept to control all devices. At the same time, it is also unlikely that there will be a universal way to seek and receive customer service and support; instead this will be fragmented between communication service providers, device manufacturers, and specialized retailers. These trends may limit the initial potential for a truly personalized customer experience across solutions.

The connected home can be a smart home too. Fortunately, the market is learning quickly, and providers are starting to realize what and where the gaps are and how to address them. The IoT is opening amazing new opportunities for new consumer experiences. If we succeed in supporting both the early adopters and the majority that follows, at whatever stages and in whatever forms they prefer, we are in for quite a ride. – See more at: http://www.support.com/crossing-the-chasm-for-the-internet-of-things/#sthash.rfYsAOcp.dpuf

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the connected home, in particular, might now be facing this chasm. There are solid predictions that the IoT market is taking off and tens of billions of IoT devices will be deployed by 2020 – with at least half of them directly involving end consumers. For instance, Gartner predicts that 25 billion IoT connected devices will be installed by 2020. At the same time, industry analyst firm Parks Associates reports that 39% of consumers are experiencing problems with various smart home devices, and approximately 10% are experiencing more than one problem with each device. Such findings highlight the chasm between the early adopters of connected home technologies and the majority of households that are now next in line to buy these technologies. Parks Associates estimates that 40% of US broadband households are planning to buy a smart home product in the next 12 months. This chasm reflects the fact that we are transitioning from the tech-savvy initial IoT buyer to the less technologically adept one. It also reflects that IoT solutions themselves are transitioning from premium to mainstream purchases. Here are five key areas that the IoT world (both businesses and consumers) needs to address in order to cross this chasm: – See more at: http://www.support.com/crossing-the-chasm-for-the-internet-of-things/#sthash.qDmVxGO2.dpuf

10

The Evolution of Customer Engagement (And How It’s Changing Everything)

How do you measure customer engagement? If you’re like most marketers, it’s all about the revenue. And while revenue is important, much of what we think about customer engagement is changing considerably.

For example, according to a recent report by eMarketer, most executives look at metrics like clicks, conversions, shares and traffic as prime indicators – but these metrics can’t really measure engagement per se and nor can they measure a customer’s satisfaction with the service they received.

In fact, just look at how marketers view the shifting customer service landscape:

 

CMOCouncil-Changing-Ability-to-Reach-Engage-Customers-Jan2016

Nearly half of those surveyed felt that they needed to better align with sales and support to deliver a complete customer experience. But how exactly do you do this? Looking at three of the more considerable metrics on the chart above reveals some insights when it comes to personalization, filtering and what information is collected about customers (and what information they choose to share).

The Signal-to-Noise Ratio

It’s evident from the graphic that customers are now available and open to receiving information than ever before. But for the uninitiated company, this doesn’t mean simply “throw out all the advertising you can at them and hope some of it sticks.” People are tired of being marketed to like brainless zombies, and instead want their business to be valued. They want to share their experiences with friends on social media and rave about the latest deals or what fantastic service they got.

BUT – and this is a big one – customers don’t want to be babysat. They don’t want to be reminded for the umpteenth time to leave a review about the cat litter they just bought. Nor do they want to be doggedly followed from site to site showing ads for that lingerie they were looking at. They want less noise and more tailored offers, personalized to their tastes.

Importance Versus Satisfaction

In customer service, a lot of effort goes into explaining (and looking for ways to create) “memorable moments”. These are moments where the customer shopping experience was so good/timely/affordable that they can’t help but remember it.

Now, it’s important to note that a customer isn’t going to have a memorable experience every single time they shop. But looking at these experience (and their relative levels of importance) is a good way to set and manage customer experiences.

custex

 

 

 

Imagine for a moment if expectations were low, but experience was high. A customer might remember that moment, right? And conversely, if expectations were high and experience low – a customer will definitely remember it – and likely tell others.

Being able to accurately pinpoint where (on the map) the customer interacts with the company and how to make these points as even as possible is the “sweet spot” every company – whether you’re selling lingerie, or cat litter – needs to aim for.

Physical Versus Emotional Variables

There are a lot of core physical variables that customers look for no matter what they’re buying. Things like:

  • Functionality (does it work as intended)
  • Time (is it easy to set up/use)
  • Attractiveness / Cleanliness
  • Environment (the ambience of the store / website)

These are all physical points that you can control to some extent. Interjecting emotional value into physical points broadens the overall customer experience into so much more. Love it or hate it, you know when you’re entering a Hollister store. The dark lights, the music, and even the smell.

That’s not to say that all customer experiences should be 100% sensory only. But making them feel things in connection to shopping online (the excitement of getting a branded package from Amazon.com, for instance), greatly heightens their satisfaction and in effect, doing business with you.

Tying Customer Experiences to Measurable Goals

Here’s the real question: How do you measure something as intangible as customer experience? Sure, the aforementioned metrics are a good place to start, as is overall customer satisfaction levels –but they don’t paint a complete picture.

It’s vital when considering customer experiences as a whole that you look at the areas where improvements can always be made – such as:

  • How easy it is to find information
  • How to get help when they need it
  • How their personal data is being collected and used
  • Appealing, interesting content

attribute

 

 

This marketing matrix, from the Customer Experience (Spain) shows how you can tie those improvements to overall goals to make real progress toward your customer engagement improvement initiatives. This will give you concrete milestones to work from as you keep improving your process. It won’t happen overnight, but gradually, you’ll be able to see impactful improvements to metrics like time-on-site, lower bounce rates, social shares and other measurable points.

And if you’re not getting the kind of results you’d hoped for, don’t be afraid to make changes and shift with the changing customer experience tides. People are rightfully expecting a lot more out of the companies they’re most loyal to, but companies aren’t afraid to take some risks and step up to the place to align themselves with their customers’ needs too.

The bottom line is always going to be to look at what your data is telling you. Draw meaningful conclusions, but don’t doggedly cling to it. We’re all human, and sometimes unpredictable and wavering in what we really want from a brand.

But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In an August 2015 survey from Ovum and Opinium Research LLP, nearly 81% of the customers surveyed reported that the issue [which would give them the greatest positive experience with a brand] would be to simply have their questions answered. That’s not asking for a lot, is it? They’ve set the bar incredibly low – presenting the perfect opportunity for smart companies to not just meet their expectations but exceed them.