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Rethinking customer support in a connected world

Redefining Support for a Connected IoT World

Imagine this a few years from now: Xfinity has updated their Android app. The update requires an OS upgrade, which hasn’t yet been pushed to the phone by your mobile carrier. Without the new upgrade, your Xfinity app no longer controls your connected TV services correctly. You’re impatiently searching in the app for the customer support number, when suddenly the app says, “Hi Greg. I see that you are trying to find a workaround for the Xfinity app. Can I help you?” A bit nonplussed, you reply, “Um, I guess. Yes.” And the app adds, “200 people in your area have been offered a solution for this problem and have given it an average rating of 4 out of 5. Would you like me to install this fix for you?”

In this new world, support would be at your fingertips. You’d be able to get tech support the way you want it. For instance, you’d be able to touch an icon on your screen and be connected to a tech support representative. You’d no longer have to call a phone number and deal with long hold times waiting to be served.

Been there, done that.

The premise behind this kind of intuitive, built-in support experience is that, for almost every problem you’re going to have, someone else has already had it and resolved it. So why should you have to spend a lot of time with a tech rep waiting for him to re-create the solution specifically for you?

Today, the answer to that question may be that the rep you’re talking to doesn’t have access to the previous solution. Or your provider may not yet have built into their app the kind of “self-support” that we saw in the example above. But when tech reps and customers have access to technology that tracks, analyzes and records problems and their solutions, and makes those solutions available at the touch of an icon, we believe this frustrating situation could soon disappear.

The “Connected Home” and the complexities of IoT

I spoke recently at the CONNECTIONS 2015 Conference in San Francisco, an event focused on The Connected Home. During my remarks I explained our vision, here at of redefining support for a connected IoT world.

People have already started buying full-system solutions instead of individual devices; solutions like complete home automation systems, rather than just a single remote-controlled thermostat or light bulb. As connected things become more complex due to sophisticated applications controlling multiple devices in concert, traditional support models just won’t cut it. People only have a limited amount of patience with technical troubleshooting, whether on their own or through a customer support professional.

We believe that support will need to be tightly integrated into future products, so that it becomes entwined with the user’s experience of a product. The ultimate goal in the world of connected support for IoT is to blur the distinction between product usage and product help.

IoT Application Platform

Context is key

Understanding the customer’s use-context becomes key to enabling our vision for connected support. The support system (or representative) needs to know as much as possible about the current scenario; the user, how she is using the product, the state of other devices and apps in her ecosystem, notes and outcomes from previous support sessions, etc.

By aggregating everything that’s known about devices, apps and the customer’s context, and analyzing the current situation against this aggregated data, the system can characterize the problem and prescribe the best solution. The product itself can then make that solution available via self service (as in the example we started with) or through a trained representative, all at the touch of an icon.

So, we see that delivering the right support experience, at right time, in the right form, is the key to the future of support. Doing so successfully can increase customer satisfaction, and lead to repeat brand purchases. In the connected world, support is no longer a tacked-on cost center, but rather an integral part of the customer experience.

Redefining Support for a Connected IoT World
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Redefining Support for a Connected IoT World
In the connected world, support is no longer a tacked-on cost center, but rather an integral part of the customer experience.
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Chris Koverman

Chris has over 20 years of experience in Engineering and Senior Management and joined as Vice President of Engineering and Operations in August, 2014. Prior to joining, Chris held numerous senior management positions including: Director of Engineering for the Workflow Cloud Line of Business at Citrix where he led development for the GoToAssist product line, VP Engineering at Casabi – a cloud content startup acquired by Broadsoft, Vice President of BusDev and Strategy for Dulance – maker of a next generation product search engine acquired by Google, and Vice President of Engineering at Clarent Communications Corp. Chris enjoys snowboarding, surfing, pretty much all other forms of exercise, playing the guitar, and spending time with his wife and 2 boys. Chris holds a BS in Biophysics from UC Berkeley and a BS in Computer and Information Science from UC Santa Cruz.

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