Smart Home for the Holidays: IoT and the Customer Journey

He doesn't know it, but this man is on an IoT Customer JourneyCustomers continue to generate more data than ever. This makes it difficult to separate signal, like customer preferences or needs, from the noise of irrelevant activities. As new technologies enter mainstream use, this data challenge will only increase. One emerging and powerful technology is the Internet of Things (IoT), which provides yet another layer of customer data. What does this mean for customer journey management? 


Used correctly, IoT data can deeply enrich a customer journey. This is because people provide data to IoT devices about their actual use. In contrast, when someone answers a survey online, they may not reveal the truth, but rather their perception of the truth. With 66% of executives saying that new investments in IoT have already made an impact on their customer experience, it’s time to consider the customer experience impact that smart IoT applications can have at your business. Good customer journey orchestration can improve already excellent IoT devices. More importantly, customer journey investments can empower the rest of your marketing, sales, and CX organization as well.  Below are detailed examples of how brands in different industries can apply IoT data to their customer journey.

Over the River, but Not the Guardrail

Connected roadways using IoT, the motoring organization in the UK saves hundreds of lives and thousands of hours of time spent on the roadsideThis and future holiday seasons, millions of customers will drive cars connected by the Internet of Things to a driving association in the United Kingdom. This organization is well aware of the holistic nature of the customer journey, and uses and IoT enhanced customer journey approach to provide high quality roadside assistance, accident prediction, and service delivery. All of this is predictive and predicated on real-time decisioning across IoT devices. These devices listen to the operations taking place inside a car at all times and deliver that data to the auto club central database. Once there, the data is processed and critical questions can be asked. These questions might include:

  • Does that low oil light indicate a need some time this week or will the engine fail if the oil isn’t replaced in the next few hours? 
  • Is the driver not in control of the vehicle?
  • Has the car crashed?
  • Is there a technical issue that will affect the smoothness of the ride?

These questions and many more are answerable by combining the live IoT data with technical information about the vehicle, weather, and driver, unifying data from across the journey. For the customer journey however, the important piece is not just collecting this data, but determining what to do next. This means taking results like “there has been a car crash” to automatically send emergency responders to the scene, or indicating to the driver that their driving is erratic, possibly waking them up from a daze.  Many lives are saved this way, but thousands of daily driving conundrums are made less unpleasant as well. Customers are happier and safer on the road, thanks to smart journey management and design. IoT can have this impact beyond the automotive space, as smart medical devices, and smart home devices become more integrated with people’s lives. 

IoT Customer Journeys Drive Real-Time Personalization

Innovation in the Internet of Things space directly empowers brands to reach into customer’s homes. Crucially, that means you must be extremely clear and transparent about what data is collected and how it is used.  If a smart fridge technology targeted customers for advertisements based on a medication that could cause serious customer concern. That same customer will likely not be upset at recommendations for recipes using ingredients still fresh inside. What if the temperature gets too low? A service technician’s call could prevent the holiday ham or turkey from spoiling in a broken machine. This is far different from the experience of a mass email or phone call campaign, and much more efficient as well. Instead of needing to staff a call center to passively receive service questions, now you can actively add value by reaching out to resolve any problems. 

Great gym experiences can be enhanced with IoT Technologies

Consider also a smart speaker system. Such a device may offer a wealth of data and insight into customer music listening habits. This allows a brand that sells music streaming the opportunity to deliver an incredible experience.  By providing customers with the music they want, dynamically detecting where in the house, when, and why different music is requested, the service can deliver even greater value. For example, consider a working woman often requests hard rock and roll music. Modern streaming services might predict that the user likes hard rock in general and recommend it at any time. It takes smart technology in the home to know she requests that music between the hours of 7 and 8 in the home gym area. Imagine if her streaming service could help her get a head start on their new year’s resolution. With IoT technology backed by a smart customer journey hub, the streaming provider could automatically suggest music to prepare the space for exercise. The customer journey then is much more active for the customer. By leveraging the customer journey with IoT devices your business is continuing to improve the experience of using your devices long after the point of sale.

IoT is Part of an Omni-channel Journey

These are only a few of the applications that IoT empowered customer journeys deliver. By providing a new layer of customer use data, IoT devices make the journey more personalized. This lets businesses meet needs the customer may not have even known they had.  

This graphic shows the cover the Kitewheel Real-time Interaction management guide!

So then, why have we not seen an explosion of experiences like the ones described above? The truth is that IoT alone isn’t enough. Even incredible technologies are only as powerful as the data that feeds into them and the orchestration of that data. IoT is no exception. That’s why it’s crucial to realize IoT devices are part of the larger customer journey. Data collected in any part of the journey can have tremendous impact on the real-time customer experience. By combining IoT, marketing, sales, and cx data together, you can make your offerings more relevant, your current service more personalized, and manage customer interactions with your business in real-time.

If you want to make great customer experience standard at your business, check out our guide to real time interaction management. It’s full of tips and guidance on how to make your customer journey real-time, reactive, and proactive to address customer concerns.