Why Service Is The New Marketing for IoT Manufacturers

Today more than at any other time in modern history, service is actually really really important. It used to be that companies would claim that “service is our middle name.” But the reality was that their service was always lacking.

But today there’s nowhere to hide. There’s nowhere for a shoddy product, bad experience on the customer service line, or a pushy sales person to hide.

Why?  The answer is obvious: everything is instantly sharable on social media. All the time.

To take a non-business related example, how often now are we witness to viral videos on Facebook and Twitter of racist rants and police brutality? The increase in frequency is never-ending.

The same is true for bad customer service and poor quality products.

This is especially true for the consumer IoT industry, which has a whole set of issues all to its own.


The IoT Ecosystem Challenge

Let’s attack this issue right away. IoT products for consumers, such as home automation, wearables, trackers, sleep tech, pet tech, and all sorts of other techs, have opened a Pandora’s box of previously non-existent problems.

From connectivity problems like learning your device requirements and edge router, to connectivity to other devices, or incompatibility with your mobile platform of choice, consumers have a steep learning curve.  Consumer devices are pretty friendly, as their designers put a lot effort into making them not only functional, but built for a great user experience.  That said, this is all new to most users.

The IoT manufacturers that win at this game are the ones who have implemented a well thought-out process for holding customers by the hand so that connecting, using and trouble-shooting these connected devices are a breeze.

Takeaway: make a complicated technology product easy to use by implementing friendly and timely support processes to help customers learn to use and connect their new IoT devices.

Something to Share on Social Media

Social media has changed everything related to marketing and customer service. If your customers are not saying great stuff about your company, it’s really your word against theirs. And in social everything comes to light.

The best types of social sharing is 3rd party sharing. In other words, social proof. And when you deliver a fantastic customer experience, whether through your great product design, UI or customer support and service, customers will rave about you on social media.

But I’m not just talking about great service. I’m talking about really great service. People don’t share “good” stuff on social media. That’s boring. People share surprising incidents that amaze them.

Surprise your customers through some sort of “delight” mechanism. How can you delight your customers by going the extra mile and putting them off balance a little bit, albeit in a positive way?

Takeaway: deliver outstanding customers service, and include a type of “delight” component that surprises and amazes your customers. They’ll absolutely want to share that on social media.

Educate Your Customers About Everything They Can Do With Your Product

You don’t know how frustrating it is when I buy a new phone, and I realize I’m only using about 3% of its functionality. It took one of my nephews to show me a few cool tricks I could do with my phone, and that was just scratching the surface.

So many consumer IoT products can do so many amazing things, but most customers don’t take full advantage of them because they don’t know about them. And when they don’t take advantage of everything, there’s no opportunity for them to really fall in love with your product so they can eventually become repeat customers.

Launch tutorial videos or webinars so you can teach your customers how to get the most out of their smart security camera or smart lamp. Show them cool new things they can do.  If your product receives firmware updates with new functionality, make sure to accompany the firmware updates with video tutorial updates as well.  Share all this with your customer support team as well, so they can built it into their knowledge base and they’re aware and prepared to share it with your customers.  Do the same with your Customer Success Managers.

Takeaway: use content to educate your customers so they can use as much of the functionality of your products as possible.

Cross-selling and Upselling

With consumer IoT devices chances are you won’t make your money from the first sale. You make your money from service subscriptions, cross-selling and upselling.

When your customers buy your tracking device, smart camera, smart lock or pet fitness device, that’s just the first step in the funnel. This is an opportunity for you to shine in your service so you can sell them the next thing in your funnel – usually something that is a bit more expensive, or something that they will pay monthly for.  Hint: Leverage your customer support team, the people that have the most direct contact with your users, to recommend upgrades and additional solutions to your customers.

Takeway: deliver excellent service so you can sell more products and drive profitability. Your first product, the one that’s getting all the attention, may just be the loss leader for your whole product offering.

Turning Customers Into Advocates and Promoters

Another effect of social and digital media is the disintermediation of the sales person. You don’t go to a stereo store anymore these days, and you avoid the pushy sales guy barely surviving on those stereo commissions.


But somebody has replaced the sales person: the brand ambassador. Whether you establish a deliberate brand ambassador program (like Hennessey) or it happens naturally, you need to get to a point where your customers are so sold on your company, so dedicated to your brand, that they will gladly spread the word for you as free sales people.

Takeaway: start a brand ambassador program, or find a way to delight your customers into promoting your brand.


Bottom line: today, if you want your IoT company to become a household name, you need to be a ninja at support and customer service.

  1. Help your customers figure out the ecosystem challenges
  2. Deliver a surprising “delight” experience so they can share about your brand on social media
  3. Educate your customers so they can fall in love with everything they can do with your product
  4. Set up a cross-selling and upselling funnel driven by awesome service
  5. Turn your customers into brand ambassadors.

It used to be, back in the day, that good marketing could make up for a bad product. Not today. Today, your product and service is the marketing. It’s especially true for consumer IoT products.

Happy customer servicing!

>Fernando Labastida

Fernando Labastida

Has been involved with high-tech sales and marketing for 22 years and is a prolific blogger. He's written about IoT, digital transformation, agile development, and international marketing. He lives in Austin, Texas, the "Silicon Hills" and is passionate about startups and how to help companies achieve fast growth.

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