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Augmented Reality Disrupts The Customer Care Experience – How Service Science Fiction Comes True

Ranjeet Walunj

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In our last blog post, we took a closer look at the impact of the digital transformation on customer care. One of our main conclusions: Augmented Reality (AR) has a huge potential for taking the customer care experience to a whole new level. Immersive interfaces offer customers virtual access to service and support. We have summarized the latest insights and trends for you.

 

 

With cloud-based solutions and intelligent processing of a real-time data, it is possible to digitize almost every process of a customer care organization. Many manufacturers of smartphones, wearable gadgets and IoT devices are successfully utilizing these opportunities. Their business processes are managed on a global level on the touch of a button or they are even completely automated. Data creates end-to-end transparency. Service processes become more accurate and faster. Nevertheless, the digital transformation reaches its limits at a certain point – it’s the interface to customers.


Digital Interfaces Don´t Necessarily Equal Digitized Interactions

Although most mobile and electronics brands offer their clients various digitized customer care options via apps, chats and web, the real interaction behind these is still manually driven. A customer interacts with a support agent via a digital interface – the communication itself is happening between two humans. And this is the point where AR comes into play. It has great potential to digitally transform also this part of the customer care process.

Let’s take a classic service case as an example. You experience a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere. The nearest repair shop is miles away and you are not familiar with the technical aspects of your vehicle. You would either call a technician or order a towing service – and waste valuable time. Very soon cases like this will hardly ruin your day. In case of car breakdown you start your car support app and use intelligent AR features that are integrated into your smartphone. Starting with the problem diagnosis you will be guided step by step through the resolution process – without loosing time waiting for a technician or a towing service.

AR in Customer Care Sounds Like Science Fiction – But It Isn’t

BMW is just about to implement AR in everyday customer care operations. It will initially support workshop technicians in their maintenance and repair tasks. But it is just a question of time before applications like that will be available for end-customers. Hyundai made the first steps, offering its customers a completely new service approach since last year. Car owners can use the Hyundai AR app to learn more about the most important features of their cars. The app also supports them in essential maintenance jobs, such as refilling oil or windshield washer fluid.

Customer care organizations considering utilizing AR technologies should focus on those steps of the customer care journey where the AR integration adds the most value to the customer care experience. As recently published in Harvard Business Review, we should bid farewell to the idea of creating an entirely new customer experience via AR. Google Glass failed because users simply didn’t want to walk around wearing average-looking glasses, constantly experiencing an augmented environment. The real mission for AR must be to integrate it into customer care processes in a way that it enhances the existing customer experience, making it easier, more convenient, more exciting and perhaps even more fun.

AR Overtakes Virtual Reality, Achieving Market Breakthrough

The AR market is expected to overtake the Virtual Reality (VR) market in terms of size very soon, achieving a global market volume of $90 billion by 2020. AR initiatives of tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung and Sony combined with various startup projects are only helping AR in winning the mass market. Immersive experiences will become an integral part of people’s everyday lives, and customers will feel totally comfortable with AR based customer care solutions.

AR technologies like holoportation enable support agents to project themselves in proximity to customers, providing virtualized on-site assistance – highly personalized and helping customers step-by-step until the solution to a problem is found. While most service requests are nowadays processed via telephone, chat or e-mail, holoportation allows customers and support agents to communicate with each other directly and in real time. The universal availability of information, artificial intelligence and connected IoT devices provide additional support, making the entire customer care process more efficient. We’ll come back to these aspects in our next blog post!

Summary: What started with Pokémon Go as an AR experiment last year will soon be utilized for a variety of customer care applications. Brands will rely on immersive interfaces to enhance the customer experience, such as AR based service apps and virtual support agents. We at B2X help many of the leading smartphone and IoT brands master the digital customer care transformation with our SMARTCARE solutions. How do you manage your customer experience? Please write to us and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up with the latest developments from B2X.


Ranjeet Walunj is the Chief Technology Officer at B2X.

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