Augmented reality remote assistance is an emerging technology that enables brand agents and product experts to visually guide and collaborate with customers and field technicians.
The original concept of remote assistance is based on a technician’s ability to use a remote connection to temporarily view or control a computer or a mobile device over a network or the Internet in order to help solve software issues.
Augmented Reality remote assistance takes this concept further by using AR and streaming videos to link the contact center and headquarters to the customer’s home or the field where the work is being performed, enabling agents to remotely solve hardware issues – seamlessly bridging the physical and virtual worlds.
How does augmented reality remote assistance work?
John is having a problem with his home office modem. He calls technical support; the agent asks a series of questions.
John tries his best to describe to the customer service rep which lights are flashing and how it is affecting his Internet service.
Eventually they identify the problem. The agent then verbally explains to John the series of steps he must take to resolve the issue.
If they are lucky, the problem is resolved; but unfortunately, more often than not, the call ends with failure, frustration and a truck roll.
Effective, sometimes. Efficient, never.
There is a better way.
Augmented reality remote assistance combines live video streaming, where images and videos are broadcast in real time, with augmented reality, an interactive technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the physical environment.
The combination of these two technologies creates a powerful collaborative solution for remote guidance. More efficient than auditory communication, visually demonstrating the desired action enables the customer to comprehend and execute the instructions faster.
Instead of the agent explaining the steps to John, he can show him what to do.
What can augmented reality remote assistance be used for?
Augmented reality remote assistance can be used for a number of business applications, across a wide range of industries. Some examples:
Technical Support: Agents can use AR remote assistance to more quickly identify and resolve common technical issues by visually guiding the customer through the steps.
Examples include guiding customers through cleaning their washing machine filters, helping buyers unbox and install a smart security camera, troubleshooting TV error messages or cable wiring issues, or fixing Internet connectivity, as in John’s experience. Using AR remote assistance results in a faster and more effective call resolution, and a more satisfying customer experience.
Field services: AR remote assistance puts all necessary data and instructions in technicians’ hands in real-time. AR can help technicians gain immediate access to remote experts when necessary, streamline the field service process, quickly execute field repairs, or even communicate with customers — for example, to survey a location prior to a dispatch or follow up after a visit.
Billing proofs and contracting issues: Documents can get confusing, with so many details and fine print. With AR remote assistance, agents can share a view of a physical document in order to point at and address billing inquiries, invoice clarification or contract misalignment. The technology also allows agents to confirm, record and add data to CRM systems, gather proof of identity, validate coupons, or see evidence of damaged goods prior to authorizing returns.
Who benefits from using augmented reality remote assistance?
Customer service organizations: Agents visually guide consumers in solving their technical problems, providing real-time assistance and solutions as if they’re standing right next to the customer. This improves customer satisfaction, increases call center efficiency, reduces labor intensity, empowers call center agents to function as virtual technicians, and prevents unnecessary truck rolls.
Field service organizations: Field technicians receive visual data from customer service agents prior to being dispatched so they can plan repairs before arriving on site. Technicians can transmit video and images of technical issues from the field while consulting with an expert or supervisor, located either in the field or at headquarters. This boosts productivity in the field, increases first-time fix rate, shortens time to resolution, improves customer satisfaction through successful dispatches, and cuts technician training time while increasing expert support capacity.
Which industries are using AR remote assistance?
Communication service providers (telcos): With the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), CSPs are tasked with delivering and supporting a wider range of hardware devices and services to consumers. AR remote assistance helps ensure more efficient issue resolution, less costly hardware replacements and truck rolls, and higher levels of customer satisfaction. For example, by seeing the connections on the back of a customer’s set-top box, router, or modem, an agent can immediately understand the problem and guide the customer to the correct connections.
Here’s how Tier-1 telecom Vodafone is harnessing AR remote assistance to better support their customers.
Consumer electronic brands Whether supporting home appliances, smart devices or wearables, customer service agents who provide assistance with consumer electronics benefit from using AR remote assistance. The technology helps agents better support customers throughout the lifecycle of their equipment, from installation and setup to updates and repairs.
With the growth of the smart home and proliferation of connected devices, AR remote assistance is the right solution at the right time, scaling the capabilities of enterprises to support smart home adoption.
Watch how the employees of global electronics conglomerate Samsung responded to the implementation of AR remote assistance in their call centers.
Utility companies: AR remote assistance can improve the way utility companies process and resolve inquiries, including troubleshooting and maintenance, hazard reporting, billing inquiries and installation guidance. The technology helps utilities reduce operational costs, increase adoption of smart utility devices, promote safety in the field, and boost customer satisfaction.
Insurance and financial institutions: With AR remote assistance, customers can easily gain clarity on billing or invoice inquiries, with the agent sharing their view and pointing where necessary. Agents can use AR remote assistance to validate customer identities, or gather specific visual evidence or proof for disputes.
The technology also helps support insurance-based IoT devices, such as in-vehicle telecommunication devices, smart smoke and CO detectors, and digital doorbells, which are increasingly being used for alerts, damage detection, and risk and claim assessment.
Insurance companies have found additional value in visual claims, allowing customers to transmit images and videos of their claims to ajdustors for faster and more accurate claims processing, more efficient remote adjustment, better risk classification, improved documentation handling and reduced fraud.
Other organizations benefiting from AR remote assistance include IT companies, retailers and machinery manufacturing companies, among others.
What should I look for when searching for an augmented reality remote assistance vendor?
There are a number of AR remote assistance solutions on the market. It’s important to understand the components of a good platform. On the most basic level, the platform must efficiently connect customer service agents and the customer with minimal friction. Following that, there are four key areas to focus on when researching augmented reality remote assistance vendors: delivery method to the consumer, device types available, features and track record.
- Delivery method: Is the technology delivered via a browser or via an app? Apps must be downloaded and installed, presenting a barrier to customers and slowing down the resolution process. Does the browser solution works for both IoS and Android?
- Devices: Is the technology available over mobile devices? If so, which ones? IoS, Android, tablets? Smart glasses? Are you aiming to use the solution with consumers or with technicians? What are the most common devices they are using? This article addresses the pros and cons of mobile devices vs. smart glasses specifically in the context of field service organizations.
- Robust platform with key features:
- A robust knowledge-base should feature CRM integration, customer history for recurring issues, a visual agent reference library for best-path resolutions, and embedded visual call script guidance.
- Clear AR annotation tools, file transfer capabilities, robust security and privacy protocols, digital signatures, as well as enterprise analytics and reporting tools should be available as well.
- The solution must be extremely simple and intuitive for both agent and consumer to use, integrating a hands-free option, and without requiring downloads, app stores, logins or passwords.
- Lastly with AI and automation around the corner, computer vision and AI capabilities are important for enhancing future use of the solution. By leveraging the data accumulated during current sessions, the technology can help resolve and automate support with the help of smart visual tech assistants.
- Track record: As an emerging technology, there are many solutions on the market that differ greatly in maturity and reliability. The vendor should have proven track record! Do your due diligence when checking for a relevant customer base, proven capabilities, and recent relevant success storiesץ
What does the future hold for augmented reality remote assistance?
With Goldman Sachs predicting that AR will be an $80B market by 2025, the future seems promising for forward-thinking companies who implement AR remote assistance. In fact, the 2017 Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies names augmented reality as an emerging technology mega-trend, showing promise in delivering a high degree of competitive advantage over the next 5-10 years. It suggests that enterprises and technology innovation leaders explore AR to understand the future impacts to their business. As Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts during a fourth-quarter earnings call, “AR is going to change everything.”