This week’s $3 million funding announcement sets the stage for a continued digital transformation of physical products, and we’re ecstatic to be at...
Why Aren’t Products Telling Us What They Need?
Physical goods have the opportunity to transcend traditional boundaries, as smart-connected products are ushering in a new era of improved customer experience.
Nov 6, 2020
There is a disconnect with after-sale customer engagement, to change this, products need a way to communicate information to support their lifecycle at all stages.
Aside from fetching a cup of coffee, today’s digital assistants are at our beck and call to answer all of our needs. Smart-connected devices are constantly alerting us with updates, news, notifications, and more. Information technology is revolutionizing the way we live, so why aren’t the products we use integrated with this same data emission? Imagine if our products could talk and tell us how to enjoy them, what they need and when they need it.
Products have the transmission power to become complex systems that combine sensors, data storage, and connectivity in several ways. When brands consider this information for after-sale engagement, the question becomes, how can we continue to help the customer have a better experience? The answer– with data; constant monitoring of how the product is being used and when. Products need a source of information to relay what they require. The product needs to help in the process, offering information the customer should know about.
Why Products Haven’t Been Thought of As a Communicator
When it comes to selling products, that’s typically where the story routinely ends– with the selling. Brands aren’t necessarily thinking about the post-sale experience since they look at what they sell as traditional products in traditional markets. They come in the door and they go out the door. For so long, businesses haven’t had a two-way communication with the customer. Most brands concentrate on the actual sale, but then the product never “phones home” to let the brand or their user know how they’re doing. Once the product goes out the door, there’s nothing to guide the customer through the process of using and enjoying it.
Brands understandably tend to focus on their core competencies, fine-tuning what they’re good at. They’re the woodworkers, the pet sellers, and the guitar makers. They don’t have the bandwidth to digitize their products to make them smarter. This often requires IoT sensors, app development, and server infrastructure. Not knowing where to turn to and add this level of intelligence can be the hold-up but implementing it can be the difference-maker for optimal customer engagement.
Equipping the Product with a Data Path Leads to Better Customer Experience Smart-connected products help to monitor condition, operation, and environment through sensors and external data sources. By using this data, a product can alert users to changes in circumstances or performance. Monitoring also allows companies and customers to track a product’s operating features and history to better understand how the product is used and what’s needed for the future.
When a product can communicate its ailments, milestones, and timely needs, it can forewarn a problem before it arises or stop it so it doesn’t persist. Just like when the oil light comes on in your car, the car is telling you it needs oil and you’re more likely to listen to it compared to a randomly timed 20% percent off coupon from the dealership.
Taking real-world data from the product doesn’t just have to be linked to IoT sensors relaying information in real-time. It can come from essential information linked to weather, what the consumer is doing in an app or a schedule timeline. This type of data generates useful information at each stage of its lifespan. Having a management system that handles the incoming support, ensures the brand’s response is on point when people need help enjoying and maintaining their product.
Why Product Usage Data Improves the Post-Purchase Customer Experience
People are incredibly busy these days. It’s hard to keep track and keep up with mundane daily tasks, let alone properly maintain high expense physical goods. The individuals who buy valuable goods have invested interest in taking care of them, but with information overload, it’s nice to have a “product advisor app” supporting every step of the way through expert-based tips and education.
Making the product smarter allows customers to have a better experience enjoying it. When you bring a pet home for the first time, it’s comforting to know you’ll be updated with notifications based on the pet’s maturity. Maybe it’s time to change the bedding in the terrarium, repurchase the dog’s supplements, or change the water in the fish tank. Or perhaps get updates on how fast the puppy will grow and how big he’ll get.
Looking holistically at the lifecycle of the pet, guitar, or home device allows businesses to create a value-added channel and retain loyal customers, reducing churn and driving up the lifetime value of the relationship. It also tells the customer that their experience is important and their favorite brand wants to continue to make sure they're satisfied even after the sale.
Education Is the Future of Product Technology
Realistically, there’s no easy way to have brands talk to you directly. Instruments “speak” when being played, but there’s plenty they could say when they are resting in their case. There are teachable moments where brands can educate a consumer about better maintaining their product. Paired with the right technology, smart-connected products have the capacity to take the work out of the “what’s going on with my product” guessing game. When brands can offer expanding opportunities for their product’s functionality with greater reliability and product utilization, their customers have one less thing to think about.
Education will play a big role in leading a customer through their product experience rather than just selling them a product. The best brands look to give their customers a true experience, helping them, educating them, and turning them into lifelong enthusiasts by anticipating questions and delivering answers. The products should do the work. If a product tells the customer, “I haven’t been used properly,” maybe it was because the consumer wasn’t fully educated, or they had a bad experience and were frustrated.
A physical good has the opportunity to transcend traditional product boundaries. Smart-connected products and the data they generate are ushering in a new era of improved customer experience. Constantly triggering educative alerts and purchase recommendations based on real-world data is a major component for brand trust and loyalty.
Customers need information, from the moment they start interacting with your brand to the days and months after making a purchase. People want to enjoy their hobbies, passions, and pets and they want to do it in an educated way. In the current marketplace, there is no clear umbilical cord from brand to its customer to the product unless there’s a product journey that connects them all.
Businesses should invest in instructional knowledge base technology and regular communication so customers have the information they need at the right time to successfully use a product or service. Broadening the capabilities of smart- connected products and the data they generate leads to the betterment of their usage and happier more invested customers.