There’s been a lot of talk lately about wearable tech – advanced computer devices that can be worn somewhere on the body, many of which can connect to the Internet. With the ever-increasing focus on the customer, and demands from consumers for tailored responses and products, can these devices offer organisations valuable data and insights that will significantly affect the way services are delivered?
If we look back, the earliest examples of wearable technology can be found in the contact centre in the form of customer service headsets. These early wearables allowed hands-free access to computer screens and eventually a direct link from the headset and voice activation to functionality on a desktop PC. Leap forward a few years and we can see products like ‘The Dash’, billed as ‘the world’s first completely wireless hearable’, which could apparently pick up the wearer’s voice and search for and feed information on a subject straight to the user’s ears.
So-called ‘in-house’ wearables, which are focused on improving efficiencies in the workplace, are part of a plethora of devices aimed at enterprise that make certain jobs easier and the delivery of tasks more efficient. Examples include tech lanyards used by people who need complex information to be available instantly and wearable cameras donned by technicians for intricate work or construction workers to see inside various structures.
Current consumer-focused wearables – such as smart watches, jewellery that sends text alerts and mood-altering devices – enable communication with ‘things’ through the collection of biometrics, activity and location data and represent the ultimate in efficient communication between humans and devices. But what does this actually mean for service providers and can the collection of the information from these devices affect how we connect with customers?
Seen as the ultimate interface between the body, apps, data and ultimately services, the proximity of these devices to humans and the consumer’s eagerness to input and allow access to personal data potentially opens new avenues to customer service that weren’t previously thought possible. We’ve already seen health and fitness apps that operate on the basis of activity level and distance covered gather data and translate it into recommendations and programmes that match the personal needs and abilities of the user.
The gathering of data from personal devices based on activity, preferences and choices gives a 360-degree view of customer habits and choices made and can be analysed to enable the promotion of products when consumers are most likely to respond and purchase. Context sensitive, real-time information also allows marketers to send personalised and targeted offers directly to a customer’s wearable device in real-time. Location-based GPRS services, for example, can be used to locate a consumer’s physical proximity to a retail outlet and subsequently offer relevant discounts and vouchers.
Sending important data to a contact centre, via wearable tech, is not just about marketing opportunities however and taking advantage of customer behaviour; it can also play a more important role. Oracle Service Cloud’s API’s for instance can make use of wearable devices that can report important information back to the contact centre who can then perform a certain action.
An example of this is a heart monitor device worn by the client, which is wirelessly linked up to a data collection platform that sends details to a linked contact team. If the heart monitor indicates a rise in activity/pressure it will alert a member of the contact centre team who then call the wearer to check all is ok. Not intended to replace medical services, this sort of wearable tech can collect and transmit important data that can play an important role in preventative and proactive treatment and care.
Virgin Atlantic was the first in the world to use wearable technology to improve in situ customer service. Using Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch technology the airline equipped its Upper Class concierge staff with information about each passenger, updates on departures, weather and local events at their destination as well as the ability to translate foreign languages.
The possibilities are seemingly endless with regards to how customer services can be positively improved through the collection of relevant data from wearable technology. The challenges arise from analysis, especially data that requires expert assessment and judgement, and ensuring that information captured via devices is part of the overall multi-channel interaction with the customer. The 21st century customer may expect timely responses, but also increasingly demands a seamless experience with brands, one that records and understands all of their needs.