With increased education and exposure, US consumers show willingness to use augmented reality in household repairs and product assembly. CGS has announced new insights from its 2021 CGS State of Augmented Reality (AR) in Customer Service Survey. Now a year into the global pandemic and social distancing, emerging technology such as AR, offers opportunities for brands. Opportunities to create simulated, real-world experiences and interact with consumers from their individual devices – smartphones and tablets. CGS is a provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services.
With the subsequent fallout from the pandemic that has continued to date, many consumers dramatically altered their lifestyles. This included their approach to the repair and assembly of household products. Companies have evolved much of their customer service strategy to address heightened consumer needs. Some accelerating the implementation of technology support as an option. One of the ways in which more consumer-facing companies are connecting with and supporting their customers is through augmented reality. For instance, when an expert guides the user through steps via smartphone or tablet.
To gauge consumers interest in using AR as a customer service tool, CGS surveyed more than 1,000 US individuals. The research focused on their interest and exposure to AR, with remote assistance in making repairs or assembling new products. Key findings include:
Consumer activism and changed customer service expectations
Consumer activism and ecological concerns are becoming driving forces for more DIY product repair. The survey found nearly 30% of consumers support the “Right to Repair” movement. Defined by lawmakers as a push to manufacturers to make parts, tools and information available to consumers in an effort to avoid devices ending up in landfills. When tasked with a household repair or product assembly in the past year, 70% of consumers figured out how to fix it themselves. Yet, of those unable to DIY, 61% said that they threw away a household appliance in the past year. 27% citing challenges to receiving repair service. Among those cited include inconvenience of shipping back an item and not wanting a technician in their home. Being unable to reach a representative by phone was also mentioned as a reason for tossing out an item.
Interest in AR-Enabled Service Interactions Is Rising
Many Americans brought new technology into their homes in the past year through their education and work. This trend extended to their service interactions as well.
- 42% stated interest in using technology with an expert guiding them through steps either via smartphone to fix an item.
- 45% said they would give augmented reality guidance a try when attempting to set up, install or repair their technology.
- This was followed by set up, installation or repair of their household appliances (36%).
- 29% of consumers would give AR guidance a try for simple car repairs (e.g., replacing windshield wiper blades).
Leading the way in interest in AR-driven guidance from experts is the 35-44-year-old age group with 51% exclaiming interest. This was followed by those aged 25-34 (45%), who also expressed interest in this offering.
Education and exposure to AR crucial for future success
More visual, immersive interactions, such as AR coupled with real-time service, will help resolve common consumer frustrations. Survey respondents state that they would prefer to try AR guidance instead of mailing in an item (34%). Taking the item to a physical store (32%) or having a technician come into their home (25%). However, 43% of respondents stated that AR has never been offered to them as an option when attempting a household installation or repair. This reveals a window of opportunity for brands that have yet to offer AR guidance as an option. A Futurum study identified that one-third of brands are increasing investments in AR and VR over the next two years. Specifically around customer instruction and support – but education on the benefits to using it will be critical for consumer adoption.
“Business leaders must reposition their strategies to be more customer-centric,” said Phil Friedman, president and CEO, CGS. “As our survey demonstrates, consumers are eager and ready to embrace technology, such as Augmented Reality. We are seeing consumers rise to the challenge of repairing rather than disposing of items. To advance this trend, businesses must provide a visually engaging means to help their customers.”
Enterprise Times: What this means for business?
Augmented Reality (AR) is one of those technologies that promises much, but to date has not really delivered. In retail, AR was expected to deliver virtual try-on for items such as clothes, glasses or jewellery. CSG suggests, Augmented Reality is a natural next step for businesses wanting to provide expert guidance to customers at-home. Meeting consumers where they want to learn and interact using their own devices – whether a smartphone or tablet. With more consumers enabled and empowered to tackle DIY fixes, AR technology is seen as a combat throwaway culture. In addition, AR creates new interactions between brands and their customers.