Augmented Reality is becoming…well…a reality, as more companies realise its potential to open up a new landscape for users.
To date the technology has made a visible impact in sectors including mobile gaming—such as last year’s worldwide Pokémon Go craze—but there is another area that many believe will push AR to the forefront of our everyday lives – Customer Experience.
Smartphones are more than merely ubiquitous; consumers treat them as a part of their body – an extra eye for viewing in the present or future, or as back-up brain for considering and comparing data.
This is where AR truly transforms CX for both companies and consumers, as it opens new avenues for both to exploit: companies to market on a deeper level that can target individual customers, and for consumers who can take control of their purchasing experience in ways shoppers of yore could only dream of.
For those still rusty on the concept, AR allows users to overlay their physical surroundings with digital information or manipulation by simply pointing their digital devices.
Fancy a new espresso maker? Well while you’re browsing the aisles at your chosen retailer, you can aim your phone at a model you like, and see how much it costs, what similar models are for sale, and what other customers thought of it following a purchase.
Other AR techniques include fashion outlets allowing customers to virtually “try on” clothing and jewellery, and car manufacturers showing potential buyers alternative colours or finishes to a particular model by holding up a tablet in front of the vehicle.
At this pioneering stage of AR, the possibilities seem endless, and it’s clear CX will adapt to this new reality…or suffer the consequences.
Alan Reilly, of international CX consultancy firm KPMG Nunwood, explained why he believes AR will become a core tenet of consumerism.
“As VR devices and the market for supporting services and talent matures, it is inevitable that in coming years Virtual and Augmented Reality will become a core platform within the Digital channel for a plethora of customer interactions across sectors,” he said.
“This, perhaps most disruptively, will include sales activities that are currently carried out face-to-face due to their need for greater customer intimacy or requirement for the customers’ physical presence to receive geo-spatial or tactile information.”
However, outlining the positives for businesses – including the use of Virtual Reality(VR) tech alongside AR, he added:
“For many sales organisations, one of the biggest cost items is the standing field sales force. AR and VR technology has the potential to digitise many field sales activities that currently require physical presence. AR and VR can not only digitise many customer-facing interactions, but can also substitute for high intimacy internal interactions, bringing together geographically disparate team members to bridge mobility gaps. For example, Field Sales Mangers in Consumer Goods organisations can use VR to virtually accompany Field Reps conducting retail audits, increasing their productivity in providing training and performance management oversight, with less need for extensive travel.
“AR and VR has the potential to be a powerful and flexible e-learning tool. It also has the potential to enable much more realistic sales training, for instance simulating a negotiation situation with an avatar or practicing pitching in front of a virtual group.
CX experts such as Alan suggest that although we are on the cusp of a new AR-dominated landscape, there is a while to go as further opportunities are explored, giving time to brush up on the technology, before being left behind. So, get to know AR…things are about to get very real indeed!