11 December 2017

IoT: Smart Homes and the Contact Center

Written by Christopher Liko, Posted in Contact Center, Unified Communications, Technology

IoT: Smart Homes and the Contact Center

It’s no secret that the world’s biggest companies want their smart devices in every household, worldwide. With the release of the Amazon Echo, Google Home and the upcoming Apple HomePod, it will soon be as normal to have a smart speaker in your home as it is to have a smartphone in your pocket. Consumers and businesses alike can benefit from the use of these devices, but how does a business effectively integrate smart speakers into their business processes?

IoT in the Contact Center

We have known for some time that IoT is shaking up the role of the contact center.

Contact centers are adapting their operations to accommodate smart homes, smart cities and smart buildings. IoT nodes offer powerful data sources, and the interconnected nature of these devices provides a large-scale, holistic view of IoT networks. Feeding these data sources into contact centers gives businesses a unique opportunity to optimize their operations and report on key systems. Now, as consumer IoT devices become ubiquitous, a new opportunity arises for businesses.

Smart Speakers

Devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod make the Internet of Things more accessible to the ordinary consumer. As these “smart speakers” end up in more and more homes, businesses need to know how to leverage the capabilities of these devices. The smart speaker manufacturers provide frameworks to develop voice commands which perform specific actions. These commands, known as Amazon Alexa Skills, or Google Home Actions, are the best starting point for businesses.

Actions and Skills

Actions and Skills are the way you connect your business or service with a consumer’s device. These commands are highly customizable and enable users to listen to music, receive information, make transactions, interact with smart home devices and more. The key to these commands is the use of context. The context in these commands allows the smart speaker to perform specific and often complex actions. Through the use of context, the AI can convert a simple voice command into a series of pre-defined actions. This is where the contact center comes into play.

Contextual Interactions

No contact center can operate without the use of context. Traditionally, agents gleaned context through a conversation, by asking the caller a series of questions. This information allowed agents to provide customers with the necessary support. Naturally, since the advent of the digital age, organizations have been leveraging key data sources to add context as interactions come into the contact center. Smart speakers, however, have the ability to take this context one step further. What if the customer could access the contact center with a single command, while skipping the entire IVR to reach the exact person they need, instantly?

Smart Speakers as a Touchpoint

Combining IoT, context and the use of commands enables smart speakers to be an exciting new asset to an organization’s contact center. Picture this scenario: an element on your stove stops working, and because of an IoT-connected smart sensor in the appliance, the malfunction is automatically detected. The stove manufacturer has developed an Amazon Skill that enables customers to interact with the contact center. You use the Skill to prompt your Amazon Echo to schedule a service technician to come and fix the stove. The Skill automatically places a call into the contact center, but it applies the context from the stove’s sensor to understand the nature of your request. This means that the call can skip all of the IVR menus and be directly queued to the right agent for service scheduling. Furthermore, the agent already knows the nature of your request, because of the context included from the appliance’s sensors. If you wanted to take this a step further, your smart speaker could even be synchronized with your calendar, so that the agent could see your availability, and schedule the service without ever having to speak with you.

The first step to optimizing your customer experience is to understand your customer. Want to learn more about how your customers are using smart home devices? Contact us here.



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