Of all of the developing AR use cases, customer support is on the under-exposed side of the spectrum. Though not as sexy as AR shopping and gaming, it’s a fitting and monetizable AR format. And as we’ve examined, the future of AR could be all about non-sexy utilities.

Specifically, AR’s use in customer services involves guiding consumers visually through a given support issue. This happens through a user’s upheld smartphone, enabling support reps to see and guide processes like fixing a sink or setting up a wifi router, including visual annotations.

This resonates with users because voice-only support can be painful….we’ve all been there. It also resonates with service providers because it boosts customer satisfaction and lowers costs. The latter happens through streamlining support calls and lessening home visits.

Beyond the utilitarian benefits that make this use case primed for potential AR killer app status, it’s in a category that we’re generally bullish on: B2B2C. Like in camera commerce and other AR enablement, tech providers equip businesses to deliver AR to their customers.

Is AR Evolving from Novelty to Utility?

Data Dive

To validate much of the above, TechSee produced a survey-based report that quantifies consumer sentiments. Beyond the inherent advantages of AR-fueled customer support, the report examines Covid-impact which has implications for long-term adoption (more on that in a bit).

Here are the highlights we’ve extracted. For context, answers were given in January 2021.

–– 65 percent of U.S. consumers have required technician assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

–– 65 percent of consumers agree that they would rather avoid technician visits unless absolutely necessary — down slightly from 75 percent in May 2020.

–– 12 percent of consumers said that they’d avoid a technician visit at any cost.

–– 61 percent of those needing assistance said that support was provided remotely in some way, either phone (29 percent), video chat (17 percent), or equipment dropoff coupled with remote support (15 percent).

–– 44 percent of consumers claim they would prefer to resolve more issues by themselves than before the pandemic.

–– 53 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to complete more remote guidance tasks than pre-pandemic.

–– 61 percent prefer a company that is innovating with remote support tools. 42 percent say they prefer to get remote support, regardless of the technician’s safety protocols or vaccination status.

Mother of Acceleration

Beyond current sentiments, the report uncovers notable longitudinal (over time) trending. Interest in AR customer support spiked early-Covid, then receded a bit. But it didn’t dip down to pre-Covid levels. This pattern is consistent across nearly every question in the survey.

This makes AR a microcosm of a broader trend towards a post-Covid “hybrid” world of behavioral transformation. The common example is remote work, where many companies are now engineering an optimal operational mix that sits somewhere between old and new “normals.”

AR will follow that pattern if these data are any indication. And it will carry across several AR subsectors that were Covid-accelerated such as camera commerce and industrial remote support. The latter is essentially the enterprise version of TechSee’s customer service use case.

In all cases, it’s about a “mere exposure effect” which Covid initiated. But the magic word above is “accelerated,” as AR-based transformation was already underway. Or to paraphrase John Buzzell: Necessity is the mother of invention but in this case, it’s the mother of acceleration.

Header image credit: PLATFORM

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