Virtual Reality Promises to Revolutionize the Customer Experience—
Part 2 of 2 

by Tom Larkin and Christopher Bishop

Previously we introduced the concept of using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to heighten the customer service experience. Advances in this technology are opening doors to worlds once thought of as science fiction. Today, countless industries and service providers are investing in research to bring this technology to our everyday lives.
At present, if a customer has an issue with a product and needs help troubleshooting, it likely requires an onsite visit by a service technician. In the near future, that service technician will be able to work from a remote location and troubleshoot with the customer virtually.

Here’s how it might work. Instead of sitting in front of a screen, the technician would wear AR-enabled glasses like Microsoft’s HoloLens that resemble high-tech sunglasses. Holographic images of virtual objects would project over the “real” objects (called an overlay) allowing the viewer to see the product or even be in the same room with other participants.

An AR overlay for example, could be used on a generic product and agents could swipe to see the various versions of the same product. Hence the service or sales agent could be virtually with a customer explaining the product features and responding to questions in a live dialogue. Today’s chat function would be replaced by real-time audio and visual communication.

Another way AR and VR could positively impact efficiency is in first-call resolution. Help desk representatives could view a hologram of the contact record and call history, while simultaneously viewing related websites, PDFs of manuals, instructional videos, Word docs, spreadsheets, or virtual calendars to schedule follow-up visits.

One company, TeamViewer, has developed an AR app called Pilot which uses a smartphone to overlay data on physical objects. Service personnel can remotely assist on-site staff or clients with troubleshooting, problem resolution and product setup using on-screen drawings and diagrams. Check out their demo video for a closer look.

A key point to remember as we enter this brave new world of an AR/VR enhanced service culture is that we will always need people with strong customer service skills. Ultimately, when customers have difficult issues to resolve, they want to speak to a real person. It’s best to view AR and VR through an historic lens as the next generation of productivity tools we can leverage for improved customer satisfaction and better business outcomes.

While a report from the World Economic Forum in 2018 entitled The Future of Jobs 2018 calculated that 75 million jobs will be displaced worldwide through automation between 2018 and 2022, it also noted that as many as 133 million new roles could be created. The next generation of service culture leaders will be part of this new workforce landscape. And the odds are good many of them will be using AR and VR to transform service culture.
Interpersonal skills will always be essential. The ability to read facial expressions or make eye contact for example, may become required skills as we step into one another’s worlds using these new tools. Customer service will evolve to create an even more high touch experience and allow us to respond more effectively through these new channels of communication. Customer service representatives will successfully adapt to the AR/VR world by moving from:
  • a focus on audio towards the visual
  • reading screens to reading facial expressions
  • telling and explaining to showing and sharing products and documents
So, get ready to innovate, transform your models, tools and processes! The 21st century’s next generation service culture is preparing to reinvent itself with AR and VR. We are excited to begin exploring this new paradigm with all of you and your customers.

[Click here for Part 1: AR and VR Transform Service Cultures]
Tom Larkin is president, CEO and co-owner of Communico Ltd. and has more than thirty years of experience as a consultant, coach, facilitator and business owner. He is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC® and is also a part-time professor at Fairfield University.

Christopher Bishop is passionate about the power of emerging technologies to deliver positive transformation at the intersection of business and culture. He spent 15 years at IBM in a variety of roles, working as a business strategy consultant and communications executive driving social media adoption and the use of virtual worlds. He writes, consults and speaks at universities and industry conferences on a range of technology-related topics including AI, blockchain, augmented and virtual reality and robotics.

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