The pace of industrial Internet of Things environments creates a lot of moving parts to keep track of. We tend to regard IIoT environments as messy and complex.
As a result, we often overlook or dismiss simple and seemingly insignificant factors which represent the root causes of customer discontent.
Warning signs of IIoT customer discontent are best caught early and often. If unaddressed, warning signs build critical mass over time. When dismissed as trivial, customer discontent festers. And if completely undetected, well, shame on you.
The net result: significant customer defection.
Detecting the seeds of IIoT customer discontent involves continuous execution of proactive strategy.
IIoT customer discontent often starts with end user customer experience (CX) of your products, services and platforms. By the time end users complain, at least one error occurred.
An IndustryWeek article showcases how the seeds of post-purchase IIoT customer discontent were sown by a plant engineering company, during manufacturing design execution.
No less than three of the plant engineering company’s departments had assembled the equipment for the client. However, each department used a different standard for technical documentation. As a result, the client experienced difficulty incorporating the information into its IT system.
Within IIoT environments, everyone’s eyeballs are trained on executing technical complexity and detecting equipment and software incompatibilities. Yet hand-offs from one department to another, or directly to the client, require consistency of communication and documentation for successful utilization on the client side.
Lack of interoperability at hand-off creates costly problems during client-side implementation.
For starters, there’s the people factor. Because, let’s face it. IIoT companies – yours and your clients – have very highly compensated IT and engineering professionals on board to solve problems. And those highly compensated IIoT professionals love to solve problems. Even when those problems should be the responsibility of the suppliers that created them.
Think about the cost (literal and figurative) of having your clienteles’ internal professionals solve problems your own company should have identified and addressed, prior to implementation.
Sometimes teams become short-sighted while focusing on complex solutions. Has this situation ever happened to your own company?
Reverse engineer IIoT customer discontent by listening to customers.
What you do next, inside your own house, matters most. Pout, react or innovate?
There are a lot of strong personalities and big egos involved in IIoT cultures. In addition, these extremely talented professionals take great pride in providing incredible IIoT engineering and software outcomes on behalf of their clients.
Consequently, there’s a tendency to take customer discontent personally, from the perspective of the supply-side team. As a team member or manager, have you ever had to inform internal teams that the customer is displeased?
Often, suppliers perceive they are doing a great job providing solutions for clients. Customers, however, particularly end users, do not share the same perspective. Episodic customer experience surveys (you know, the ones asking “So, how did we do?”) lack feedback that is granular enough to detect early warning signs of a problem.
Sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know until you ask your customers. ~ Babette Ten Haken
Are you working around customer discontent or making proactive course corrections?
What happened next makes this business case powerful.
The plant engineering company did more than react to the immediate situation. They listened to the client. Then, they invested in the creation of a unified, single documentation standard to be used by all departments.
In this business case, prior to the client finally complaining, there could have been extensive internal workarounds and “translations” of technical documentation. Consider the cost of that plant engineering company’s internal teams spending non-billable hours navigating lack of document interoperability. On the other hand, were these teams so insulated from each other that they didn’t realize these incompatibilities existed?
Internal teams can become charmed and distracted by the complex solutions they create in IIoT environments. As a result, they can overlook the small stuff which creates big problems, client-side.
Chew on these two questions. Let me know your thoughts, based on your own experiences.
- What simple, significant and proactive changes can you make in team execution of IIoT strategy that create enduring and powerful customer experiences?
- How can you sow the seeds of customer success for customer retention?
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Babette Ten Haken writes, speaks, consults and coaches about collaborative value creation for customer success and customer retention. She connects the dots between strategy and execution. She works across leadership, human capital / HR and technical/IT/engineering teams within the industrial Internet of Things ecosystem. Her focus? Creating enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
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