Whenever a new technology emerges, most attention is initially focused on the technology itself. For example, when AI (Artificial Intelligence) was in the arc of its development as a cognitive and computational force, we have had many university professors and researchers explaining to us in which ways AI differs from traditional computer programs, and how machine learning and neural networks worked. Fast forward a few years, AI systems can be found in numerous products that consumers and companies use regularly. AI is now adopted and integrated into our daily lives.
Today, the same thing is happening with augmented and virtual reality. Despite being so distinct, AR and VR are related technologies that are becoming increasingly popular in the consumer and business press. AR headsets and mobile apps allow companies to improve customer basket size, collect real-time customer feedback, and engage customers in an exciting and more holistic way.
What Contributes to Successful Customer Engagement?
Will augmented reality (AR) be important for businesses, and how? While there can be many industry-specific applications of AR (e.g., using smart glasses for guidance in industrial machine repair and maintenance), there are some activities that all companies engage in, regardless of the industry. Customer engagement is a key metric in every company’s marketing strategy, and they all want to increase brand awareness and build engagement with their customers to develop lucrative and long-lasting relationships.
Three main factors affect the success of a company’s customer engagement strategy:
Emotional connection. Building an emotional connection with customers is as important as creating a logical reason for them to buy from you (both with B2B and B2C purchases). What leads to loyal customer relationships is nurturing customers (post-purchase leads) by developing and maintaining emotional connections.
Intellectual engagement. Customers must have meaningful and immersive experiences learning about your company and ways to use your solutions. This is done by sharing useful and relevant information.
Multi-sensory engagement. Getting your customers involved in learning about your products and using them. Employing their auditory, vision, touch, and smell senses are important when engaging with them.
Augmented reality apps can help with engaging all of these elements to help companies take their digital marketing campaigns to a whole new level and engage customers in a way that separates them from their competitors. Augmented reality takes away the control of the marketing experience from the brand and gives it to the customers, and that is what boosts levels of customer engagement.
From marketing encounter to early sales to customer service, augmented reality technology is finding its way into all these different stages of a typical customer journey.
How Can Augmented Reality Help Improve Customer Engagement?
As AR solutions are becoming more mainstream and ubiquitous (in terms of software and devices), they’re beginning to gain an integrated status as features or components of larger solutions and product packages. Therefore, consumers are developing an awareness and an expectation for AR experiences when they interact with a company.
Enterprises who are trying to build more solid, long-lasting, and engaging relationships with their customers and prospects, AR bring important capabilities to the table, which should be included in their plans. Having special gadgets, such as smart glasses, doesn’t have to be a necessary part of the equation since consumers can simply use their smartphones or tablets with an installed AR application.
These are some great examples of how AR can improve the customer’s engagement by enhancing your company’s customer service support. Bear in mind that these are not the only ways businesses can benefit from the use of AR, but they definitely reflect strategies that various companies apply.
Instead of having to reach out to the customer service contact center, customers can utilize AR for self-service support. After a purchase is made, customers can install an AR mobile app, point their phone camera at a product, and get a self-service image or animation overlay. The overlay can put helpsheets, FAQ pages, and other resources that can help your customers find answers to various questions. It can free up more of your resources and save time while boosting customer satisfaction.
Interactive packaging for adding value or offering advice
Some of the most exciting AR uses come at the point of sale, and the concept of interactive packaging is one of the best examples. Customers can point their phones at a product and get a valuable and engaging AR experience through compelling visuals. For example, Wheaties and Nesquik (well-known cereal makers) have AR apps that allow users to play AR games, which boosts their customers’ digital experience.
Training customer service personnel
When looking for products or making a purchase, people often want to speak to a customer service agent, which makes human interaction an integral part of customer service. That makes the training you provide to your service agents critical. Augmented reality technology can make training more efficient and quicker. For example, if you offer a wide range of products, your staff must know all about each item to be able to explain each product to customers expertly. Hands-on experience is the only way your personnel can reach that level of expertise. Thanks to AR applications, your staff will be able to deliver expertise without having to physically handle every product because AR 3D models can replicate real products for training purposes.
Identifying product malfunctions and faults
Whenever a customer finds a product to be faulty or malfunctioned, they want to report it. That can be tricky because customers usually don’t have that strong of an understanding of a product. It can be challenging for them to explain what has gone wrong. Instead, customers can point their phone camera to a broken product, view the internal or external parts in real-time, and identify the problem.
Reducing customer decision-making uncertainty
When it comes to online shopping, there is one significant drawback to the customer’s shopping experience – they cannot examine a product before buying it. This leads to higher return rates for products bought in an online store than for products bought in a brick-and-mortar store. E-commerce companies can address this problem with AR interactive apps that can provide customers a better-rounded impression of a product. This AR feature helps remove pre-purchase friction by showing the customer how a product can influence their lives.
AR technology is yet to gain traction and is considered a rising trend. Even if you are not acquainted with the concept, you are probably already an AR user without even knowing. If you have used social media filters (e.g., Snapchat, Messenger, and Instagram face filters), you got a glimpse of the blend of physical worlds and digital elements. AR (as well as VR and mixed reality) will surely lead the digital transformation in the future. Right now, AR transforms the customer experience in almost every stage of the purchase funnel, from augmented reality marketing to online purchase to brick-and-mortar retail experience to improved customer support.
Augmented reality is changing how people interact and communicate with brands across an array of different fields, and as the technology develops and matures, it is likely to expand. This is particularly true in the area of customer experience. Threatening to become one of the most important stapes of digital customer experiences, this technological evolution of AR into the mainstream will allow companies to build AR features into more holistic and larger business applications.
To increase their conversion rates and boost sales, companies need to boost customer engagement, and AR promises to lead to new and exciting opportunities to break old habits and embrace new techniques of engagement. Also, AR will help introduce new technologies, new models, and new opportunities into your brand and marketing planning.
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