The business of resolving customer’s technology problems has been treated as a balancing act between providing a great customer experience and being cost-efficient. According to Gartner research, live customer support channels such as chats, emails, and phone calls cost U.S. $8.01 per contact on average per contact. Compare that to self-service solutions such as mobile apps and self-help information on company websites, which cost a mere 10 cents per contact. Customers typically prefer these higher-cost resolutions, with only 9% solving their own problems with self-serve options.
Every company wants to delight customers from an experience standpoint. But how do you make outstanding customer support cost-effective? Traditional methods that aim to save the company money typically do so at the cost of customer experience. Emerging technologies allow for alternative solutions. Augmented reality (AR) is one such technology.
Redefining AR for Customer Support
AR’s interactive experience offers a huge potential to redefine customer service and support, especially for the PC and peripherals industry. Laptop and printer manufacturers can leverage this technology to train and assist field engineers once they are on the job. With the support of AR technology, field service engineers can carry out repairs more efficiently and access remote expertise for model-specific support.
This benefits companies in two ways: First, it helps reduce technician error and increases first-time resolutions, thereby reducing costs drastically for the company. Second, more efficient resolutions will reduce frustrations for the customer, which will create a better experience. The application of AR for customer support is only limited by a manufacturer’s creativity.
In real-life scenarios, AR solutions can aid a relatively less experienced field engineer even if he or she has not worked on a specific model before. The field engineer can point a smartphone at a printer, for example, and the AR software will recognize the objects, images, and models. AR will add layers of virtual images, data, and guidelines on top of the “real” object. The application can then guide the engineer through required repairs with step-by-step instructions, pointers, and tools.
In this way, AR software operates narrating instructions in real time just as an experienced engineer or technical support staff would. If the field engineer is still struggling with the repair, the smartphone can dial into a remote senior experienced engineer to help.
Beyond saving on repair costs, AR helps the customer experience. AR’s ability to provide superlative customer experience is invaluable. There’s something to be said for quickly repairing malfunctioning equipment so it’s back in action. Customers will not have to hear the dreaded “We will get back to you” while engineers leave behind out-of-order devices.
Manufactures can also create AR-supportive apps for customers to use on their own. Customers can access AR support on mobile devices, which provides simplicity and convenience. Companies can position these apps as fun, interactive, DIY solutions for non-complex issues, and the apps can be leveraged to make customers part of the repair process. This could provide some customers a feeling of achievement and satisfaction.
In essence, AR technology can deliver significant cost savings, reduce operating time for field engineers, increase expert reach, and provide efficient training for new technicians. Customers will benefit from more efficient, faster repairs, or they can use AR support to cut out the middleman and fix their own devices. It's a win-win for both companies and customers, no matter how you slice it.
Global Business Head – Compute Vertical, Wipro
Atul Kapur leads the business for the Compute Vertical at Wipro. In this role, he drives key strategic relationships and provide leadership to scale the vertical. Atul is a well-rounded business leader with extensive international experience spanning strategic planning, country operations, global relationship management, alliances, business development, delivery and IT strategy consulting. With over 24 years of industry experience, he has an established track record of building teams across geographies with proven ability to lead business operations and relationships across US,Europe and APAC.
In his previous role in Tata Consultancy Services he was a member of the core strategic leadership team entrusted with Global P&L ownership for identified large and strategic relationships in the Hi-Tech Business Unit. Atul has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Institute of Management Studies & Research and a Bachelor’s in Engineering from Panjab Engineering College. An advocate of industry-academia interplay, he has also spent time undertaking Executive Leadership Programs at Ross School of Business, Ann Arbor, Michigan.