Making Money from the Mundane: How the IoT Transforms Customer Relationships

February 26, 2018 Joel Hruska

The IoT is poised to reinvent customer relationships in ways that will generate significant new sources of revenue. In the past, the relationship between an appliance manufacturer and the end customer was minimal and invoked only in occasional service calls. Thanks to the Internet of Things, that’s no longer true.

Gathering real-time customer data offers opportunities to more effectively tailor products and services to individuals. In the case of home appliances, knowing how often someone uses their washer or dryer gives the manufacturer the ability to offer service contracts that are custom-priced to reflect an individual or family’s actual usage. These new contracts can replace the old-fashioned, one-size-fits-all contracts that may not serve any individual or family particularly well.

This scenario offers two benefits. First, it results in higher service contract sales and correspondingly higher revenue. Second, it creates a positive association between the company and its customer. Better diagnostic information and a record of which specific appliance model a customer has purchased also allows the manufacturer to propose new appliances directly to the customer when an old model reaches end-of-life.

These potential revenue streams aren’t limited to appliance manufacturers. One Indiana company, SteadyServ, has developed the iKeg, a smart platform for that most constant of fixtures on college campuses: the beer keg.

The iKeg is a sensor platform designed to take the guesswork out of knowing when it’s time to swap one keg for another or to order a fresh supply. By continually monitoring the weight of the keg, the sensor platform is able to calculate how much beer remains, while a second sensor on the keg itself keeps track of the type of beer and its packaging date.

This data is relayed to an Intel gateway and then uploaded to the cloud, keeping pub owners informed about what their customers are drinking, when they’re drinking it, and when it’s time to reorder supplies.

IoT integration offers opportunities to save as well as make money. An appliance that’s connected to the Internet can relay advanced diagnostic information back to its manufacturer, ensuring that when a service engineer is called out to repair a malfunction, he or she arrives with the proper components in-hand and ready to install.

Not only does this reduce the average number of service calls the repair technician needs to make to each location, it’s vastly more respectful of the customer’s time. While there will always be cases in which a follow-up visit is required, proper IoT integration could reduce such events from commonplace to rare outliers. Customers who don’t have to take off work multiple times to deal with an appliance failure are more likely to buy from the same company again.

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