Wearables Are Here to Stay and They’re Changing Our Relationship with Brands

They’re finally in stores and on people’s arms. Proud owners seem to gather a crowd of admirers, hanging off their wrists wherever they go, and gossip blogs are wondering which celebs have one. I’m talking about the Apple Watch, of course.

You may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Why on earth have 2.3 million people paid up to $12,000 for an accessory that seemed to be going out of fashion? Certainly my teenage kids haven’t worn a watch for years; they rely on their phones to tell the time.

I think the answer lies in recent history. Put aside images of the gold-plated version of the Apple Watch for a minute and cast your mind back to the heady days of March 2010.

It’s a time pre-iPad. Fireflies, Parachute and Rude Boy were in the charts and the South Africa World Cup was looming. You were probably sitting on your sofa and ‘Googling’, or ‘YouTubing’ on a laptop or even from a desk PC. It seems strange to me now, but that’s how we surfed the net in our free time–and we were quite happy with it.

Yet by May 2010, only one month after they hit the stores, one million iPads had already been sold–that’s half the time it took to sell the same number of first-generation iPhones. And by the summer of last year, just over four years on, we collectively owned 200 million of these devices and they had transformed the way we browse the Internet.

Today, industry analysts believe that the adoption rate of wearables like the Apple Watch, Pebble and FitBit, is faster than that of smartphones and tablets when they were first launched.

What this says to me is that wearables, far from being a dismissible fad, will soon be an intrinsic part of our lives, much as tablets and smartphones already are. And this will bring about a massive change in other parts of our lives, too.

Take customer service for example. Consumer surveys are repeatedly telling us we all want convenience and a seamless experience when it comes to dealing with brands. I believe that wearables have a vital role to play in delivering this.

Here’s how: wearables and other connected objects will channel data on our preferences and consumption habits in an immediate, direct and discreet way. Companies, acting upon this data, will then be able to deliver a personalized service that fits naturally into their customers’ lives. This means that these devices will ultimately enable us to benefit from concierge-level of service.

What is concierge-level service? Well, imagine using video built into a smart watch to interact with your bank and set up new accounts from anywhere; or imagine your smart watch automatically connecting you with the app to pay your parking fine when it reaches the payment deadline; or your smart device beeping to remind you to buy some milk as you walk past your favorite supermarket, (because the device is linked to your fridge and knows you’ve run out).

This sort of holistic engagement where companies can offer customers a tailored, personal experience is what concierge-level service means. By linking different data streams, like GPS and connected object sensors, customer experience software can enable this level of service through the interface of a wearable device.

It’s clear that wearables offer a huge opportunity for consumers to enjoy the kind of service they’ve been demanding for the past few years and for business to fulfil their customers’ desires by offering a genuinely differentiated and personalized customer experience.

And customer service is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact that wearables will have on our lives.

So the next time you see someone talking into their Apple Watch, don’t dismiss their behavior as odd–these devices will soon be part of all of our lives and we’ll struggle to remember the pre-wearables days when customer service involved several devices and steps.