Customers are one of the reasons businesses exist and they, to a large extent, determine whether a brand will continue to be in business or not. Hence, there is the need to do all to ensure great customer experience both before and after the sale has been concluded. Augmented reality is helping businesses provide real-time expert support, and we’ll see how it works.
How Bad is Bad Customer Service?
In 2016, poor customer service cost businesses $62 billion and in 2018 $75 billion, according to The NewVoiceMedia’s 2018 “Serial Switchers” report. The report showed that more businesses are not able to retain customers’ loyalty as they are failing to create positive emotional experiences and connection. According to the report, 67 per cent of customers are ready to switch to competing brands as a result of poor customer experience.
Several reasons were found why customers would cease to do business with a company, and they include:
- When they do not feel appreciated;
- When they are unable to speak to a business representative who can provide them with the answers they are looking for;
- When they experience nonchalant and unhelpful employees or representatives;
- When they are being passed around to multiple people without finding desired answers, and
- When they are placed on hold for a long time.
The report also showed that 39 per cent of the participants in the survey vowed never to patronise the offending brand again, and 36 per cent said they would write a complaint letter or send an email.
This, obviously, isn’t good news for any business. Now, the question to ask is: How can businesses avoid losing patronage and revenue due to bad customer service?
What’s the Way Out?
There are many expert opinions out there on how to improve customer experience, increase retention, gain loyalty, etc. Most of these focus on having a great customer service strategy, improving customer service skills, better interactions, etc.
One interesting area to look at in trying to solve this problem would be how to employ relevant technologies to make things more effective. And when considering what technologies can be useful in this regard, augmented reality stands tall.
Augmented Reality in Sales and Marketing
Since its debut with the US military in 1992, augmented reality has found its way into the mainstream of many sectors today. From manufacturing to automotive, healthcare, education, even sales and advertising, more industries are tapping into the power of this technology to improve its operations.
By allowing digital information to be overlaid on real objects in a user’s environment in real-time, one of the major advantages augmented reality is bringing to businesses is the ability to improve customer experience. Marketing and sales are the main areas where businesses have tapped into AR, mostly to allow customers to test their products before committing to purchasing them.
Some examples are:
- Home Depot, a US-based home improvement retailer, created a Project Color app, which uses AR technology to show users what a paint color will look like in their home. Beyond paint colors, users can also see other pieces of furniture fit into their home.
- Sephora’s Virtual Artist App uses augmented reality to show users how different makeup products will look on their face via their phone’s camera, and also to know which tools or products would be needed to apply certain products.
There are more examples that could be given. From the common instances where business have applied augmented reality in sales and marketing, we find them centring more around
- Augmented shopping experiences,
- Augmented branding materials, and
- Product presentations
But those are not the only areas you can use augmented reality.
Customer Service and Expert Support Using Augmented Reality
Customer support is a critical part of the sales cycle for every business and plays a major role in customer retention and loyalty. Just as we saw earlier, whether or not a customer will patronise a business again depends on the experience they had at first. By providing the right support, you can win the heart of your customers, and AR can help you do a great job.
How it Works
The regular way businesses approach customer support is that a customer would call in (or send a mail/message) when they are facing a challenge with a product/service and wait in queue for the next available support agent. It could take a while to finally connect the customer with an agent, who then listens to the customer’s complaint and tries to guide them on how to solve the problem.
Sometimes, explaining the problem to the support agent is tough. The customer may not be able to properly describe the issue using the right terms that the expert can understand. On the other hand, when describing the solution, the expert may have difficulty conveying the information in simple terms so the customer understands what they are talking about.
AR changes the process.
Augmented Reality Self-service Knowledge Base
You can implement an augmented reality system that takes into consideration the various challenges usually encountered by users, with solutions built into them. With that, a customer doesn’t need to contact a support agent. Using their mobile device and an AR app, for instance, the customer can point the camera to a faulty part of an equipment and get instructions on how to fix it.
Augmented Reality Real-Time Expert Support
A second scenario is when the issue at hand requires the attention of an expert to diagnose and profer solution. Augmented reality makes remote assistance a lot easier. Still following a similar process as noted above, a customer can capture the faulty part and send the picture to an expert, who will provide direction on how to fix the problem. The directions will be overlaid on the image.
Here is an illustration provided by MobiDev
However complicated or complex the service or product is, which could lead to waiting endlessly to be attended to by a support representative, augmented reality has come to enhance things. In the era of Cyber-Physical Interfaces, AR is one of the human-machine interfaces that businesses can leverage to provide their customers with outstanding instant expert experience. You can win the loyalty of your customers by using AR to provide them with outstanding support experiences.