How Companies are using IoT to Transform Customer Experience

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The business-to-business world is realizing the value of customer experience. It not more just your product quality but overall experience matters. Business-to-business customers get annoyed when products don’t arrive on time, or have defects, or services get delayed due to operational flubs. In many cases, the long-term relationships become strained, and deals go in the trash.

While everyone by now knows that great customer experience is at the center of digital transformation, what’s less understood is the connection between great customer experiences and operational excellence. It’s not just the sales and marketing that need to digitize – operational aspects need to digitize, too. But let’s not confuse that with automation.

Delay in Services

Delay in services is a major cause for an unsatisfied customer. Consider, for example, an oil well owner in Utah who is managing several wells. Typically, these wells are located in remote areas and also spread miles apart. But as these are open assets, weather conditions, long hours of operations and several other factors could impact their performance and uptime. If something goes wrong, it’s a nightmare to get it repaired and most importantly, extremely time-consuming and costly. Any downtime would mean a loss of thousands of dollars. To monitor the good condition and critical parameters like oil level, water level, and temperature, various sensors are deployed at these wells.  However, if the sensor data is not available at the right time, it’s of no use. Four decades old sensor manufacturer is a sensor provider for these wells.

Knowing the importance of timely customer service, he used IoT to connect its sensors to the cloud and sync-up data at frequent intervals to process and find early signals. Remotely he is able to monitor the health of good assets. Alerts and notifications helped him avoid any major downtime. Early notification of potential downtime or real-time data about oil/water level or temperature at the well is helping to troubleshoot issues quickly. Communication errors have reduced 95% and customer satisfaction has increased multifold. Preventive maintenance brings higher customer satisfaction than the reactive troubleshooting. Read Oil and Gas case study.

Quality Issues

Secondly, Quality issues are another major sucker when it comes to customer satisfaction and product rejection. Its a huge cost to the manufacturer if the product fails to meet customer expectations/requirements. A major adhesive films manufacturer suffered from quality issues for its film manufacturing unit. Major issues were in slitting and winding processes where the film roll is created as per the requirement. The output film would show wrinkles, loose winding, ripple effect, starmarks and 30 other defects resulting in a downgraded film. With such issues, the customer would reject the films and result in significant delay and customer dissatisfaction.

The major problem was unable to find the root cause.  With IoT enabled process, they were able to use data analytics to establish a co-relation between machine settings and golden batches and help present the machine settings. With IoT data analytics, good and bad batch data was processed to establish the relationship between machine parameters and output quality. Accordingly, machines were present with required settings for expected quality and any variation/change in the machine parameters would send an alert to avoid further damage and do needful corrections. This resulted in 20% quality improvement and 8% improvement in timely delivery. Read film manufacturing unit case study.

Health and Safety

I want to take a completely different example now. It’s not only about your external customers, even internal stakeholders matter too. Health and safety is a major concern for most organizations. Global EHS spending is expected to rise in 2018. To control your EHS reactive spending and penalties, you could look at IoT to help you build a proactive health and safety network. Take for example, in hazardous places like in a chemical plant where hazardous gases are flowing through pipes or in a large foundry where a high-temperature furnace is in works, employees are at risk. In such cases, IoT enabled devices could provide an early indication if the employee health is deteriorating or there is a likelihood of a danger to occur, an early alert could help save big mishap.

These and many such examples clearly highlight the importance of IoT enabled data analytics and how it helps turn reactive behavior into proactive behavior. Research shows that within a few years, 89% of businesses will compete primarily on customer experience. Great customer experience can be delivered by knowing your products better, knowing your customers better. IoT brings this opportunity to establish end-to-end traceability for your product, right from the raw material all the way to product usage while it’s in customer land.


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IoT Curator - July 2018