The Impact of Virtual & Augmented Reality in Customer Service
Thanks to technology, we live in a world that is ever-changing and evolving. It may seem hard to believe, but only forty years ago if you wanted to communicate a message you had to pick up the phone or write a letter. There wasn’t any email, texting, or social media. Now, the ways we communicate and share information are instantaneous and can become extremely immersive.
One of the more modern ways to communicate, teach, and learn is through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). As an overview, VR involves creating an entire new reality for your senses, often by using a visual headset, while AR utilizes technology to improve upon how our senses perceive things in the real world. The main image above is an example of AR, where a car manual is brought to life with descriptive imagery and a tablet.
So, how will these two emerging technologies impact customer support? Here are a few ways…
VR and AR can be used to train customer support agents – For companies that have many physical products, VR and AR can provide agents a way to “view” a device without the need to locate a real product. For example, an AR overlay can be used on a generic product and employees can swipe to see the different version the product has and, more importantly, how they are different. This can result in companies loading hundreds of physical product variations (different color, accessories, etc.) into an AR or VR software solution for each agent to utilize. A process like this for working with products and inventory can be expensive to implement right now, but like most technology we expect it will become more affordable in the future.
Smartphone and tablet apps can use AR to assist customers – Some companies now bundle components of AR into an app for their customers to use when sending information about issues. For example, they can hold a smartphone up to the product that isn’t working correctly and all parts will be identified in real time. This lets customers know the exact name and model number of the malfunctioning part to send to agents. Enabling customers to be so precise with their information during the initial inquiry prevents less back and forth conversations, resulting in faster issue resolution times (one of the most important customer support metrics).
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VR and AR support can save money and increase internal collaboration – This is especially true for companies with a global presence that face language barriers. An agent in North American can look at a construction site and take a VR photo, making notes about potential issues and using generic labels to highlight problem areas. Working in real time and because all labels in a VR solution can be easily translated, an expert agent in Asia with no knowledge of English can understand exactly what the other agent views as problematic. In addition, they can respond using their own labels (uneven foundation, insufficient load balancing, etc.) to help the agent halfway across the world. This may seem futuristic, but it’s how companies will collaborate in the future because it saves time and important details don’t get lost in translation.
Wrapping up, virtual reality and augmented reality will impact customer support because they create ways to help customers that don’t exist today. Not only can agents get up to speed faster on new topics with the technology, but it can be deployed to customers so they can create better and more informative issue requests. VR and AR will also do wonders in the future by breaking down communication barriers, enabling agents around the world to assist each other regardless of the language they speak. This technology may not be a staple of the customer support industry overnight, but expect to see it leveraged to create new and exciting ways to help customers more efficiently in the future.
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