In 1978, horror author Stephen King penned the book Trucks, which was made into the movie Maximum Overdrive a decade later. In it, machines come alive and begin to wage war with their makers. Definitely the stuff of nightmares, but also something that’s been played out in literature and films for many years. What if the machines or technology created by humans become so intelligent that they take over the world?
Already, there’s evidence that the algorithms written to serve advertising to specific target groups on social media platforms has gained its own intelligence that even the creators can’t quite understand. Techno-sociologist, Zeynep Tufekci, outlines this in her Ted Talk, ‘We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads’. But it’s not about machines and technology taking over. The advance of technology means that customer service has been taken to a whole new level.
Some drivers of luxury cars will already be familiar with the concept of the car alerting the driver to potential hazards or the need for a service. In fact, some cars even offer a concierge service, which can contact a service centre on your behalf should that be required. But, that still requires human intervention. Calling a service centre and trying to find time in a full diary to get something fixed means that a lot of people put such things off until it’s a matter of urgency because the device, appliance or product has stopped working.
Richard Chetty, Director of Customer Services for Samsung South Africa, says, “Samsung’s people-centred focus is what drives the innovative technology we create. With every new product, a novel set of customer service opportunities arise. The IoT certainly brings an exciting dimension to how we will respond to connected products and customers.”
What if your appliance could contact the service centre on your behalf? That’s what the future of customer service looks like. Soon, all home appliances will be connected – to the internet and each other. Smart appliances are already able to self-diagnose. In the future, this self-diagnosis sensor will initiate a service request. All this could happen without the user having to even know about it. With connected appliances, a service technician could access the appliance remotely and assess what needs to be done. Only if a physical interaction with the appliance is required, will the user need to get involved.
“There is an opportunity now for increased skills upgrading – in the future, there will be less requirement for ordinary call-centres and more required for specialised technicians within the customer service space. People won’t have to contact a call centre for information, the appliance will have everything stored – from warranties to service plans and history. We are gearing up for this future with our Engineering Academies and look forward to embracing the new ways we can service our customer’s needs,” concludes Chetty.
Far from taking over the world, the IoT is more likely to organise the world. With all the administrative tasks taken out of user’s hands and placed into a highly sophisticated communication system, people will inevitably have more free time to simply do life.