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IoT can fix bad service

The Future of Customer Service, are machines taking over? With the IoT, just about anything is possible, but don’t worry, it’s all about convenience and great service, says RICHARD CHETTY, Director of Customer Services for Samsung South Africa.

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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.

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New iPhone pricing for SA

The iStore has announced that the latest iPhones, the Xs and Xs Max, can now be pre-ordered at www.myistore.co.za , and will be available in stores starting 28 September 2018.

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iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max feature 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch Super Retina displays that offer remarkable brightness and true blacks while showing 60 percent greater dynamic range in HDR photos. iPhone Xs and iPhone Xs Max have an improved dual camera system that offers breakthrough photo and video features, A12 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine, faster Face ID, wider stereo sound, longer battery life, splash and water resistance,

Pre-orders will be open for cash purchases and on iStore’s revised payment plan in partnership with FNB Credit Card, allowing customers to pay off their iPhone at a reduced interest rate. However, the contract period is 37 months rather than the usual 24 months.
*FNB Credit Card Payment Plan, price per month over 37 months, a 40% trade-in value after 24 months

How to pre-order – Pre-ordering online for either cash or the FNB payment plan gives customers the benefit of reserving their purchase without having to queue and the added convenience of having purchases delivered directly to their door. Pre-orders of iPhone Xs and Xs Max are completed online by visiting www.myistore.co.za.
FREE iCare Plus – Exclusive to iStore, all customers can get its 2-year extended warranty, which includes one Apple Certified screen repair, that normally sells for R1 999, for FREE. To qualify, customers should secure a voucher online now at www.myistore.co.za , and subsequently redeem it when they upgrade their contract or purchase any new iPhone at iStore (iPhone 8 and newer) between now and 31 December 2018. Offer is limited, secure your voucher now.

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Accenture opens Fjord design centre in Johannesburg

Accenture has launched its first design and innovation studio on African soil, Fjord Johannesburg.

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The company says the move significantly expands its design capabilities and demonstrates its commitment to unlocking Africa’s innovation potential through the creation of experiences that redefine industries in our constantly evolving digital era.

The new studio, opening in November, will be located at Accenture’s new 3875m² offices in Waterfall. It will be led by Marcel Rossouw, design director and studio lead for Fjord Johannesburg.

Said Rossouw, “Brands are constantly asking, ’how does one take a business need or problem, build that out into a definition of a service experience, and then bring it to market?’ It’s about re-engineering existing service experiences, identifying customer needs, prototyping rapidly, iterating often and proving or disproving assumptions. But it’s also about getting feedback from customers. The combination of these factors helps companies advance towards the ultimate service experience.”

Fjord is the design and innovation consultancy of Accenture Interactive. The Johannesburg location marks its 28th design studio globally, solidifying its position as the world’s leading design powerhouse.

Working in the same location as Accenture Interactive will allow Fjord to fuse its core design strategy DNA with the digital agency’s expertise in marketing, content and commerce to create and deliver the best customer experiences for the world’s leading brands. Accenture Interactive Africa‘s blend of intelligent design and creative use of technology has already been used by some of South Africa’s largest and most prominent brands, including Alexander Forbes, Discovery, MultiChoice and Nedbank. The digital agency has also earned industry accolades for its innovative and compelling business results, most notably two gold awards in the Service Design category at the 2017 and 2018 Loeries awards.

“Great design tells great stories,” says Wayne Hull, managing director of Accenture Digital and Accenture Interactive lead in Africa. “It unifies a brand, drives innovation and makes the brand or service distinctive and hyper-relevant in both the digital and physical worlds. This is critical to achieving results. Having Fjord Johannesburg as part of Accenture Interactive, and collaborating with all of Accenture Africa, will provide unique experiences and forward-thinking capabilities for our clients.”

“Businesses in South Africa are becoming more design-aware and are looking to take greater advantage of design skills to compete with the rest of the world,” said Thomas Müller, head of Europe, Africa and Latin America at Fjord. “We’re excited to open our first design studio on the continent and to be part of an emerging market that is ripe for design and innovation, and open for business. Developing markets like South Africa are challenging assumptions and norms about what digital services and products are meant to be, and we’ll strive to put design at the heart of the innovation being produced there.”

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