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Immersive technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are revolutionizing many industries and the way we conduct our day-to-day lives.
With customer uptake constantly rising, businesses will soon be able to assume that a large number of their customers will have access to immersive tech capabilities. What does this mean for business? And how should companies prepare for the advantages this will bring?
Much like the technology itself, there are lots of options for businesses to consider when it comes to thinking about immersive versus non-immersive customer experience.
Immersive support for non-immersive products
Let’s say you’re a customer trying to get support for your brand new smart watch. You contact customer services, and the first question they ask is ‘Do you know the model and serial number?’
You’re stumped. Your heart sinks. You’ll need to go back to using your old watch. But wait, the helpful customer support person asks you to turn on their company’s smart watch AR app and point your phone towards the watch. Now you can see an annotated outline of your watch to identify where the model and serial number are. Or perhaps the image is being streamed directly to customer support, who can identify the model for you. Your mood lifts. Your day looks brighter. And your old watch can stay in the drawer.
Win-Win. Everyone’s happy.
These kinds of immersive tools will allow customer support agents to see through the customer’s eyes. This can be much more helpful than relying on descriptions provided by the customer that might be inaccurate or misinterpreted. And this accuracy can dramatically reduce customer frustration and shorten average handle times, too. So it’s a huge win for both sides.
Immersive support for immersive products
Immersive support will allow some of the most personal customer support interactions ever, transcending existing audio-visual capabilities.
Instead of guiding your customer with instructions over the phone, it will now be possible to ‘meet’ them in simulated 3D spaces, and see their issue exactly as they do.
Not only will this give a ‘face’ to customer support to help humanize agents to customers – albeit an avatar in some platforms – it gives both parties a chance to interact with one another in far more meaningful ways than were previously possible.
Video game equivalents for this method are nothing new. For a long time in many popular online games, it has been possible to contact a ‘GM’ or Game Master. These customer support representatives are available within the game itself. They provide the kind of interaction that can be extremely valuable as it is ‘in-product’, and removes the need for your customer to leave the environment or experience to get help.
Immersion is a critical factor - so helping your customers to stay immersed, while at the same time being able to contact your agents, is an important way you can increase their enjoyment and reduce frustration.
Non-immersive support for immersive products
Immersive products don’t always need an immersed agent. In a classic customer support situation, if a customer is using a VR/AR headset and they are seeing issues with the way text is being displayed, the agent would ask the customer to describe the issue as best they can and would then try to identify the problem. Now, however, the customer support agent can simply stream the customer’s in-vision view, and see the problem for themselves - removing any guess work.
A customer support revolution?
Your favorite movie won’t play in your VR cinema app. But instead of exiting the immersive experience, what if you can summon a customer support representative to fix the issue for you, in-app and right there in the experience? It’s reasonable to assume you might stay engaged with the experience.
Engaging users in their own space, where they feel comfortable and relaxed, will revolutionize customer support in immersive environments and could significantly change and influence how the average customer views and experiences the support they receive.
Within each of these support options there are a host of new and rapidly evolving methods and techniques that are only possible with immersive technologies. While it is still early days, the opportunities that VR and AR provide to customer support solutions indicate the emergence of not just a new channel, but of a wider cultural change.
The flexibility that VR and AR provide ultimately shifts customer expectations. And now the pressure is on businesses to keep up today, if they want to stay ahead tomorrow.