Augmented Reality and Customer Relationships: The Complete Guide
Customers make a business.
No matter the product or service, customers are the blood that gives life to a company. If a business has no customers, it’s dead.
As such, every business should make customer relationships a top priority. This isn’t only about the quality of the service that they deliver but also about how they treat their customers, before, during, and after the buying process.
Augmented reality communication is changing the way customers interact with businesses, and products, and make purchases. Read on to learn more about augmented reality communication and customer relationships.
AR Communication and Customer Relationships
Augmented reality communication and customer relationships are two terms you don’t often hear together. The former is a newer form of technology, something that’s just finding its footing in the world at large, and while a benefit to businesses, not currently essential.
The latter is something that’s as old as business itself. It’s critical to the survival and success of any business and can make or break them. When you use the former to enhance the latter, you can provide your customers with a unique and impactful experience that’s sure to keep them around.
If you’re not familiar, augmented reality is when a computer-generated image is superimposed on the user’s world view to provide a composite view. It’s a form of extended reality (XR) and arguably the most accessible technology out of the three, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR).
As such augmented reality is a part of augmented communication. According to Intech Microwaves, augmented communication is a new model of communication. It employs the New Technology of Information and Communication (NICT). These include Extended Reality (XR) technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Human Computer Interaction, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), and Visual Communication.
The other part of the equation is customer relationships, which are the links between a business and its customers. They are developed by customer relations which deal with how a business engages its customers to create long-term bonds.
As mentioned before, this doesn’t only occur when a customer purchases a product/service. It’s how a business treats a customer from the moment they come in contact with them.
Think about it, are you more likely to support a business that treats you well from the start or one that only treats you well once you’re spending money?
You’d rather shop with the former rather than the latter, correct?
While excellent customer service is critical for any business, it’s not the only thing necessary to build a great customer relationship. You must make the buying process as frictionless as possible. There should be no barriers between your customers and getting their problems solved.
Examples of roadblocks during the buying process:
- Difficulty in contacting your business
- Insufficient information so customers can’t confidently make decisions on their own
- Lack of adequate communication or communication channels
- Too many steps in the transaction process
These are some of the issues that augmented reality can help to solve for businesses and therefore improve their customer relationships.
How Augmented Reality Communication Can Improve Customer Relationships
Healthy and profitable customer relationships are what every business desires. Augmented reality communication can allow these to develop in a myriad of ways. While AR is still in the relatively early stages of mass application, it’s still being used by numerous companies in varying industries. They are using it to bring useful experiences and benefits to their customers.
Aiding The Buying Process
Online shopping has allowed people to buy almost anything online. From clothes to gadgets, medications, to even furniture, you can shop for almost anything from your computer, tablet, or phone. According to the US Census Bureau, e-commerce sales accounted for 13.2% of total sales in the United States in 2021. It’s expected that these will increase in the coming years.
When it comes to smaller items, it’s easier to buy them online, there’s less worry about if something is wrong. However, big-ticket items such as furniture are a bit tricky. This is due to their size and the fact that sometimes what you see in your mind is not what it’ll look like in reality.
Augmented reality removes the uncertainty and allows you to see what different big-ticket items will look like in your space. This means you’ll know exactly what you’re getting and won’t have to worry about returning it because it doesn’t fit or it doesn’t suit your aesthetic.
Amazon and Ikea are two companies that have eagerly and effectively adopted augmented reality to help buyers with their decision-making. This gives them more confidence in their choice which leads to improved customer satisfaction.
Try Before You Buy Experiences
If you’re familiar with Snapchat, Instagram, or TikTok filters then you’re aware that augmented reality doesn’t only work well for previewing furniture but also for trying on makeup, clothes, or even testing out new hairstyles.
When it comes to the beauty industry, being able to try on different looks before picking one can save you so much time and energy. Many companies such as L’Oreal, The Gap, Amorepacific, and more have utilized augmented reality to allow customers to test out different products and find the best fit.
This can be done in-store with an augmented reality mirror or at home with a dedicated app. Similar to the furniture example above, this aids the buying process, reduces buyer’s remorse, and allows customers to have more confidence in their decisions.
Here’s an example of an AR mirror for makeup:
AR is also making waves in retail, eliminating the need for dressing rooms and improving efficiency in the buying process.
Here’s an example of an AR mirror for clothes:
Identifying and Reporting Product Issues
One of the unfortunate parts of doing business is that there will be the off chance that a product will malfunction or be faulty. When this happens, it helps customers to have an easy way to contact you to report the problem and find a solution.
An issue with this is that some customers may not fully understand the product or problem at hand and so they don’t know how to relay that to a customer support specialist. Augmented communication allows customers to easily identify and report these issues so the problem can be resolved quickly.
Reflekt Remote is a perfect example of this. Customers can video chat with customer support specialists which allows them to view the area and annotate it using augmented reality for easier communication.
Here’s a video showing it in action:
While a dedicated and helpful support team is great and essential. Sometimes customers want to resolve problems on their own without having to contact customer service. Augmented reality can help to facilitate this.
Customers can aim their cameras at their devices and use a dedicated app to identify the device, what’s wrong with it, and find out how to fix it. The assistance can be provided in the form of Help articles, FAQs, or even video tutorials on how to solve the problem.
This combined with an AI chatbot grants users the ability to fix these issues on their own time without waiting in a queue on the phone or online. This app can also double as an AR user manual to help customers learn more about their purchases too.
Ask Mercedes is how the Mercedes company has helped customers use AR to get the most out of their purchases and solve potential problems:
Training Customer Support Agents
One of the ways many businesses utilize augmented reality is by training their employees. This works especially well in technical fields as AR allows them to provide their trainees with hands-on training and access to what could be otherwise overwhelming information in one a more digestible format.
Customer service agents often have to memorize or be familiar with a company’s entire lineup. This can be overwhelming for one person, especially in a short period of time. Augmented reality allows these agents to learn about a product, and see and interact with it without having it in their physical possession.
This improves their skills and competency and allows them to better serve their customers. Augmented reality training also streamlines the process and allows for more efficient training which benefits the business in the long run.
Final Thoughts on AR Communication And Customer Relationships
There’s no doubt that augmented reality is already being used to benefit both businesses and customers alike. While this may be the beginning stages of augmented communication, as the technology grows and becomes more mainstream, we’ll see more businesses utilize them to help their staff and their customers.
Whether it’s improving the buying process, helping with customer assistance, or training, augmented reality will augment both businesses and customer relationships in the years to come.