Across industries, business leaders are seeking ways to transform their field service operations. IDC’s 2021 Product and Service Innovation Survey found that improving the quality and speed of service was a top-3 business concern, along with market expansion and security.
It’s easy to see why. Sending out a truck and technician every time someone has a problem with a machine is not only expensive, it wastes time and energy. Companies don’t have enough agents to handle demand, a problem that’s growing worse as a wave of experienced employees retires and younger workers choose more exciting, technology-forward careers.
Customers, too, are frustrated. Downtime keeps employees from doing their jobs until a technician can fix the problem – which may require more than one visit. The traditional service model feels to everyone like it’s stuck in the last century – because it is.
“Technicians are absolutely committed to solving problems for customers, but it’s hard for them to connect to right people or the right information when they need help,” says Sajeel Hussain, CMO and Head of Strategic Alliances & Partnerships at CareAR. “When field techs are not empowered, customer satisfaction suffers.”
Augmented reality (AR) technology is changing that picture and transforming the service experience.
Using AR software on their mobile devices, customers can show technicians the problem and receive visual, step-by-step guidance enabling them to solve it remotely – often in minutes. When a problem does require a visit, it’s short and sweet. Agents have already seen the job, so they know what to bring and how to implement a fix.
AR has the potential to revolutionize service, making it an easier, faster, cheaper, more pleasant experience for customers and agents. In the IDC survey, 37% of executives said developing AR/VR service capabilities over the next 12 to 24 months was very important to them.
AR solutions can provide customized help for virtually any kind of business machines. Here’s how five industries are using it to resolve service challenges.
Manufacturing – Factories were the first sector to adopt AR technology, which allows them to improve productivity and safety by giving workers remote guidance. AR makes it easier to walk front-line workers through problems with complex equipment on the shop floor or the manufacturing plant. AI algorithms embedded in the AR software foresee looming production line problems, allowing managers to arrange repairs before a costly shutdown occurs. Not surprisingly, 30% of G2000 manufacturers plan to be using mixed reality tools by 2022, reducing mean repair time by 40%, an IDC FutureScape 2021 survey found.
IT services – AR tools can troubleshoot and resolve server issues and installation problems, saving companies time and money. Technicians can get remote guidance from outside experts prohibited from visiting the data center in person and perform routine maintenance remotely for their own customers, decreasing equipment downtime.
Property insurance – Customers fed up with filling out lengthy claims forms and waiting for an adjustor to visit has been a longstanding pain point. AR turns that model on its head. Customers simply use a cell phone to send notes and images of the damage to a virtual adjustor in real time – no visit required. All content is stored in the AR system and analyzed, helping companies improve their service, as well as prove compliance.
Banking – By allowing technicians to work remotely, AR reduces out-of-service ATMs, a source of many customer complaints. Service agents – often booked out months in advance – can also fix branch computers and data center issues from anywhere.
Healthcare – Hospitals are short on professionals who understand how to maintain and fix their complex, life-saving machines. With AR, vendors and third-party contractors can securely share their expertise from afar, helping on-site staff to solve critical problems and learn to do more on their own.
These are just a few of the sectors where AR technology is transforming field service management with immersive video collaboration uniquely contextualized for each engagement. By sharing knowledge in a simple, safe, visual, and intuitive way, AR is helping businesses across many industries boost productivity, lower costs, conserve energy, and improve customer satisfaction.
“This approach puts service employees and customers at the center of the business,” says Hussein. “If you get the service experience right, your customer experience will naturally benefit.”
Learn more about reimagining the service experience.