Hive harnesses IoT data to personalise smart home customer experience

CTO Seb Chakrabory explains how Hive links its Salesforce CRM and connected home devices to personalise customer service


Connected home company Hive is using data from its smart devices to provide immediate personalised support for customers.

Hive was set up by British Gas in 2012 to find ways for people to control the heating in the home. Its product range has since expanded to wireless thermostats, smart lighting, motion sensors, and plugs that can be controlled from mobiles and laptops used by more than half a million people.

© Hive
© Hive

All these IoT devices generate a huge amount of data. Hive funnels that data through Salesforce's CRM software throughout the customer journey, from sales and marketing to aftercare. The user insights are used to customise customer service, contacting them with support based on the needs of their specific smart home devices.

"We've coupled it with our insight engines," says Hive CTO Seb Chakrabory. "So, for example, if a battery level in the home for a certain device has started to go down, then we know about that immediately and we can upload that into our CRM systems and then inform our customers through Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

"What Salesforce is essentially doing for us at the minute, is helping navigate difficult decisions and tailoring a service that will meet their needs.

[Read next: Gartner: Enterprise spending and investment driving Internet of Things boom]

These insights are generated along the entire customer journey, from their first visit to the website through their purchase and its distribution onto the onboarding experience and device pairing and then the ongoing support.

"We've got a lot of data in connected homes, so we want to offer customers the right service," says Chakrabory. "Houses are all different, buildings are all different, people are all different, geography is all different, and then there is an overlayer of other sorts of data, things like weather data or daylight as an input.

"We have algorithms which essentially spot failure and will notify us through Marketing Cloud and our agents can then call up the customer or notify them through SMS. Then there's a process which involves sending an engineer to the house trying to fix that boiler for essentially the first time, so you don't have a revisit."

Hive's Salesforce deployment

Salesforce was chosen from the start based on the previous experiences of Hive staff using the software in other organisations. The firm wanted a cloud-based solution that could scale and had an easy onboarding experience for agents.

It initially deployed the call centre application and then added more and more products on top, including customer case and knowledge management tools and the Marketing Cloud. Salesforce software is also integrated with all Hive's related logistics, engineering and backend systems.

[Read next: Aston Martin personalises customer experience with Salesforce CRM]

"The journey has been incrementally adding more and more Salesforce components on," says Chakrabory. "As we grow and scale our organisation we want to be with a partner who understands our strategy. Salesforce is in the business of not only the CRM elements but also insight, also AI, also IoT. Those are all things that we're aligned on."

The company measures its CRM performance using the Net Promoter Score (NPS), with results Chakrabory calls  "extraordinarily good".

"It's all about winning fans for us," he says. "We know that our business is growing because we've got that piece right. We believe that customers are after exceptional customer satisfaction."

Customers increasingly expect a personalised service, but ironically it's automation that's being turned to provide this. 

Hive is exploring how Salesforce's new AI service Einstein could help further tailor the customer experience. The technology has been built into the CRM platform to provide predictive analytics that can automate the insights to make intelligent recommendations. Pattern recognition could be used to instantly identify and resolve issues with Hive devices, and to suggest better ways to optimise an individual customer's systems.

"What we're really looking to do is bring it all together in an automated way, so all of the grunt work is hidden," says Chakrabory.

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