What used to be thought of as science fiction has come to fruition in today’s world thanks to the technological advancements of the last 25 years. Think about artificial intelligence, smart phones, touch screens – these can be found everywhere. While we enjoy all of this tech every day, we have also become increasingly reliant on it. Where would we be without our navigation apps, smart homes and video chats? These devices have dramatically changed the way we perceive and interact with the world.
At the pace technology is evolving, we seem to be standing at the gateway to an even greater change in how we interact with reality. CGI (computer generated imagery) worlds have been existent in our lives (films / TV/ gaming) since the 1990s, but it is now entering a new realm in our everyday lives. And, it is doing so in the form of augmented and virtual reality.
To get a quick idea of what that might mean let’s look at the internet. When we were first introduced to it, it was just a bunch of text. As it matured, images were added, and now most websites include embedded videos. In the not too far future, surfing the internet might be best experienced with some visual device (maybe VR glasses), giving us the experience of traveling through a virtual space with many gateways. Imagine if North Face invited you to look at their products in action, standing atop Half Dome in Yosemite watching a climber in full gear ascend the cliff. Another gateway can virtually lead you to Adele’s studio where she’ll invite you to watch as she rehearses for her next tour. The possibilities are limitless, and they will change the way we live our lives.
In this article, we’ll focus on the practical uses of those new technologies. With the advancement of tech comes more complexity, more problems and more of a need to help consumers solve those problems and AR is a perfect fit when it comes to providing technical support to consumers.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR) merges the real world with additional virtual components. It does so by superimposing virtual overlays and elements on top of reality as it is captured live (or recorded).
By combining those two layers of reality, you end up with a third one that is based on the objective reality captured but is also “augmented” with virtual elements to create a new augmented reality. Unlike the completely immersive experience of virtual reality, AR enables you to see the physical world around you, but it is enhanced by virtual elements.
AR and Customer Service: A Perfect Match
Let’s look at the essence of technical support to better understand how AR fits into the picture. Technical support comes in when there’s a problem in the consumer’s reality. Something isn’t working. It could be a product such as TV, smart car or an entertainment center or a service such as a consumer losing WiFi connectivity at his home or office. The perfect example is the installation and setup of services and devices such as when you get a new device or product shipped, and it needs to be assembled, connected, and wired for you to properly use it.
In both of the above cases, the consumer is facing a reality in which the functions he needs to work are not operating yet. To get the product to work, he needs to make some changes to that reality. He needs to properly assemble, install, wire or reboot the device, so the services and product will function properly.
This is exactly where augmented reality can help. By looking at the reality as is (non-functioning) and overlaying the changes that need to happen for it to work, you end up with an augmented reality that details and points at all of the changes and actions that need to be taken to fix a problem.
Augmented reality is a perfect tool to create product manuals and guide consumers through technical support situations. It can easily and clearly show consumers, on top of their reality, the actions and adjustments they need to make to get to the desired setup and outcome. Without having to send a technician to the customer, an agent sitting anywhere in the world can virtually be in a customer’s home in an instant. By utilizing the customer’s phone camera, the agent can see in real-time what the customer is talking about. The support agent can come up with a sequence of actions to resolve the issue and guide the customer, utilizing AR to clearly show the steps needed to be executed in the customer’s reality.
AR is perfect for delivering real-time customer support. It allows the agent to guide the customer through a process with visual assistance, eliminating the biggest problem that exists – miscommunication. With AR, the agent can introduce and share virtual elements by adding markups to the image the customer sees as well as overlaying parts of the device in the proper place with the right instructions. Guidance becomes visual and therefore more effective as if the agent was right beside the customer showing him in real life.
In fact, the principle behind this process is already working for some time when it comes to the 2D world on our screens. If you look at a solution such as WalkMe, it overlays operating instructions on top of your computer screen to guide you through processes. Making it significantly easier to set up and install software. Augmented Reality facilitates these types of solutions in the real world by overlaying instructions on top of your reality rather than your computer screen.
How AR Changes Your Business’ Bottom Line
What does all of this mean for your business, customer support agents, and your clients? The innovation that is happening with visual and augmented support is still just beginning, but when you look at what already exists, AR offers a simple yet powerful solution for tech support.
A customer’s negative experience can derail customer loyalty and crush any chance of repeat business. Recent research from Parks Associates shows that problems occurring during the setup process have a distinct negative impact on the likelihood of making repeat purchases from a brand. Only about 33% of customers who encountered setup problems would purchase a similar product from the brand again. Smooth customer onboarding for tech devices represents a challenge that chatbots and self-service options can’t always solve. Instead, AR will enable you to help your customer immediately, ensuring a quality onboarding experience.
On-site support is the gold standard of the past. Customers want help immediately and even those customers who like to figure things out on their own, they will inevitably need help at some point when knowledge bases fall short. Every once in a while a revolutionary technology comes along that changes our reality. In the last 50 years with Mobile communication, the World Wide Web our reality the pace of those changes has picked up. If we look carefully at the current technological landscape it seems that AR is posed to be this next disruptive technology that will revolutionize how we interact with the world around us and not just in a Pokemon Go kind of way. AR gives support agents the ability to engage with customers in a meaningful way and, more importantly, in a way that resolves issues on the spot. If happier customers and a more efficient customer support department are your business goals, AR is going to help get you there.