This blog was originally delivered as a talk at IoT Tech Expo Global 2018.
Very often in IoT, much of the focus is based on getting the project off the ground and delivering a new, connected service. But how do you actually delight your customers once you have them?
Maslow's hierarchy of needs for IoT success
Maslow's hierarchy of needs proposes that fundamental needs like shelter and food must first be sorted in order to be able to focus on more abstract things like self-actualisation.
The same principle applies to success in your IoT project – in order to delight your customers, there are other things that must be addressed first:
Is it useful?
Does your product solve an actual issue for people? IoT is full of unnecessary products that actually deliver no value past the gimmick of being internet connected, like smart kettles. (Twitter user @internetofshit has an excellent collection of these examples.)
Generally, we find that many connected product companies we work with are using IoT to measure something or help create a better world - like making better use of energy, reducing waste, optimising people’s time.
Does it work?
Does it deliver on that promise on a daily basis?
You need to go from "juuuust about works" on a good day to "just works, full stop" every day.
As we know, the real world is a complicated place and things don’t always work they’re supposed to. I find that with these problems, 99% of them won’t be to do with the application itself and will actually be to do with unexpected real world issues and how you learn to deal with them – for example, what do you do if you fall off the network or the battery runs out?
It’s incredible important in IoT to measure what the product is actually delivering.
Example: with a connected thermostat, it’s delivering a service which is managing temperature in people’s homes. You should measure if you’re actually controlling that temperature and you need you check if you’re actually delivering.
Achieving this differentiates excellent companies from those that are soon to no longer exist.
A lot of this is to do with simplicity. There are more and more devices in the world and our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Simplicity can be hard to achieve in your design but it’s what your customer craves more and more.
Example: Apple put in a lot more effort in their design process so that users don’t have to exert any effort at all.
Is it easy to use? Is it intuitive? Does it work alongside your customers’ other products? Are there any barriers to usage? All these questions will need to be answered in order to achieve simplicity.
Don't forget sh!t happens
What’s really important is how you handle it. Many companies remain in the "reactive" mindset when it comes to issues – simply waiting for customers to report the issue then solving it. However, true customer delights come from the final "automated" mindset, when you’ve identified issues and already have a process in place to deal with it.
Example: if a radio connection is unreliable within a few days of installing Hive, the customer receives an automated email and a repeater is despatched to solve the problem.
Whose responsibility is customer delight?
Ultimately, this comes down to the product manager. The customer service team are your reactive core, but it will be the product manager’s responsibility to put monitoring processes in place, get closer to your customers and really understand their lives.
But does any of this actually have an effect on the company itself? In short: yes. Following NPS surveying at Hive, we found that introducing the service and really nailing the automation process increased British Gas’ NPS by 50 points. That’s a huge improvement! And an important one too - IoT itself helps us understand customers in ways previously unavailable to us, so leveraging that will really bring you success.