Internet of Lost Things
This week marked the 25th anniversary of the internet. We are living in the most ‘connected’ age ever. What could be better?
The answer, apparently, is the next evolution of the worldwide web: the ‘Internet of Things’. In essence it refers to a huge proliferation in the number and nature of devices wirelessly connected to the internet.
According to ABI Research more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. Imagine all objects in the world equipped with miniscule identifying devices which can be managed and inventoried by computers. Devices may be tagged using radio-frequency identification (RFID), near field communication, barcodes, QR codes or other means.
It has the potential to revolutionise customer service - just think about eradicating all customer calls about missing goods, incorrect orders, delivery delays. Remove the capacity for human error and create the potential for a radically improved world - or so the theory goes.
Sounds like utopia. However, I had a personal reminder this week of how far we are from this currently, following the worst of travel nightmares - a long distance air journey and lost luggage.
Flying to Mexico City this week to make a speech at the 5th Global Contact Centre Forum, celebrating a strategic partnership between CCA and IMT (Instituto Mexicano de Teleservicios), I was reassured by the airline that my bags were on the right flight. In a connected age where every bag is tagged, screened and checked, what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, a lot. On arrival at Mexico City my bags were missing. The only communication I received from the airline was a generic text regretting to inform me that my bag was in London and instructing me to go to the baggage desk and provided no phone number for further assistance.
A regular traveller I have on many occasions praised this airline's customer service teams, and the in-flight experience was once again commendable. However, whilst the team onsite at the airport did what they could, ultimately I was left dealing with humans struggling to overcome a ‘computer says no’ situation. The airline has all of my details but there was no attempt at personalisation or even empathy with my circumstances. A reassuring phone call from a fellow human taking control would have gone a long way to make a bad situation better – a lost opportunity to re-engage the customer.
Ironically, our new research launched this week reveals that only 29% of consumers feel valued. ‘Why you need your customers to complain’, in partnership with Verint, clearly highlights the invaluable learning to be had from situations such as these.
Mexico City is known as ‘the City of Hope’ but my experience typifies a customer journey begun in hope and ends with distrust. It was not the most auspicious start to a visit where the focus of my talk was the importance of standards in customer service.
CCA and IMT now offer a joint certification model to organisations operating in Mexico and throughout South America, following the conclusion of collaborative work to successfully map CCA Global Standard© against the Modelo Global CIC. It was an inspiring visit (baggage aside) and we look forward to further work with IMT on how businesses can map and benchmark performance globally.
As we embark on this exciting collaboration, let’s all focus hard on creating and delivering a service strategy that enables humans, computers, systems and processes to work together in harmony for the good of the customer. It may be more a case of ‘The Internet of Getting Things Right’ than the ‘Internet of Things’ but that is my personal vision of customer service utopia.