Augmented Reality Remote Assistance

How Augmented Reality Remote Assistance will Revolutionise your Business

Customer service, field service, and human resource organisations have begun introducing augmented reality (AR) technology with remarkable results. Paired together, augmented reality remote assistance has a proven track record of boosting ROI and KPIs including

  • Customer satisfaction
  • First contact resolution rates
  • Service efficiency 

Augmented reality’s ability to improve a company’s performance has led many, like Samsung, to implement AR throughout their entire remote assistance ecosystem. With wide-ranging remote assistance implications, the field of augmented reality is estimated to grow from USD 10.7 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 72.7 billion by 2024. The time to invest is now.  However, what exactly is remote assistance AR, and how does it boost a company’s productivity and customer satisfaction while reducing avoidable friction?

Advantages of augmented reality remote assistance
Advantages of augmented reality remote assistance
Source: McKinsey, 2019

What is Remote Assistance Augmented Reality?

Remote assistance augmented reality is an emerging technology that allows experts to visually interact with customers or field agents. Augmented reality innovates remote assistance by superimposing computer-generated data such as text, image, or video on a real-world environment.  

Before, a customer or field agent requiring step-by-step remote assistance support would interact with a remote expert via voice chat, often leading to inefficient service. With augmented reality, the user and remote expert share a real-time video stream of the user’s physical environment. On the video stream, the remote expert can overlay digital images onto the user’s environment in real-time to provide instructions.

With augmented reality remote assistance, the interaction between the remote expert and user shifts from an explanation to a demonstration.  

Augmented Reality vs. WebAR

Most AR software requires a plugin to work effectively.  Unfortunately, plugins are often cumbersome to download and pose incompatibility problems when used across different devices.  

WebAR simply works on AR-enabled websites or devices which eliminates the need for additional plugins. This streamlined approach allows people to instantly share live AR image and video streams without the hassle of downloading the correct app.

Forms of AR Remote Assistance Tools 

Two types of AR remote assistance tools dominate the market, mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and workwear. Mobile devices, used by more than 90% of technicians – are the most common form of AR remote assistance technology. Mobile devices can use augmented reality apps or WebAR to overlay schematics onto a real-world environment. Workwear, such as smart glasses, is able to project step-by-step instructions while freeing one or both of the user’s hands, leading to clear productivity gains.  

Engineer using tablet for augmented reality remote assistance

Where Remote Assistance AR Builds Value

Augmented reality remote assistance can improve workflow efficiency for any business that provides remote or in-person customer or field service. Listed below are a few business functions that will benefit from the implementation of AR.

Field Service

A 2017 field service survey found that the primary concerns of field service organisations are ensuring that their workforce operates at peak efficiency, coupled with meeting customers’ expectations. AR remote assistance enhances both goals.  

With augmented reality remote assistance, visual data can be sent to a field technician in order to streamline their troubleshooting. By receiving omnichannel information, the repair process is accelerated. By facilitating higher first contact resolution rates, technicians are able to spend less time on the road. Organisations using remote assistance AR have seen a 10% to 12% reduction in overtime spending on field service teams.

Augmented reality remote assistance also provides field technicians with a heightened degree of flexibility. Thanks to AR’s omnichannel support and stored knowledge platforms, field service units can put technicians of any experience to work on complex repairs. Such flexibility optimises cross-training and cuts labour costs, lowering overall operating expenses.

Customer Service

Customer service hinges on adaptability and responsiveness. Per a recent survey, 96% of survey respondents said they would not keep interacting with a retailer following an unsatisfactory experience. Having a seamless, consumer-friendly assistance web is crucial to a business’ success. Remote assistance with AR enhances customer services in three key ways.

Real-time job status: Real-time status updates are sent by establishing a step-by-step list of actions needed to resolve a problem, automatically sending notifications to the customer if there is a delay.  

Clearer knowledge transfer during service escalations: By establishing a list of actions, escalation teams can seamlessly pick up the project by accessing a record of what has already been tried.  

Guided solutions for faster resolution: The customer can share a real-time video with a remote expert allowing them to impose images onto the user’s environment, easing the step-by-step instruction process. Augmented reality remote assistance offers transparent remote communication which will boost customer satisfaction while lowering call center operating costs.

Human Resources

Augmented reality remote assistance can be used to address the technician shortage currently looming over the field service industry. A recent report on field technicians found that around 45% are at least 45 years old, with more than 20% being older than 55. An ageing technician population will put pressure on HR to rapidly train and onboard new employees. However, assistive technology like AR provides a solution to training a new workforce.

The saying that hands-on experience is the best way to learn a new skill rings true with AR. AR-based training platforms swap paper modules for highly interactive AR experiences.  During AR training, the trainee is exposed to real-time situations that they would encounter on the job daily. Per Datafrond’s 2019 report, organisations using AR saw an average reduction of 50% in the time needed to train employees.

How to successfully implement remote assistance AR

Successful implementation of AR is key in order for a business to see high ROIs. Luckily, augmented reality is relatively inexpensive, easy to deploy, and has low technical barriers. However, implementation isn’t as simple as giving technicians smartphones or smart glasses. When integrating AR remote assistance into business functions, it’s important to consider the following points;

Evaluate the Desired Outcomes

Be specific, KPIs don’t lie. Where is your company falling behind competitors? Where is your company losing the most money?  Remote assistance AR will likely solve these questions, so how does one go about testing AR within business functions?

Identify Performance Gaps

The simplest way to determine the usefulness of AR to your organisation is by running a remote assistance AR pilot. Remote assistance AR pilots are used to identify performance gaps in business functions. The pilot program takes the guesswork out of the AR rollout and speeds the process. Pilots should assess as broad of a range of KPIs as possible. This blanket approach will identify business functions that were targeted to adopt AR as well as laggard functions that went previously unnoticed.  

KPIs could address factors such as;

  • First contact resolution rates 
  • Number of return visits
  • Dispatch rate
  • Client satisfaction
  • Level of experience needed for the job
  • Size of carbon footprint

The pilot should also cover ROIs such as;

  • Operation costs
  • Change in overtime pay

Find the Right Mixture of Technology

Correctly identifying the type of augmented reality remote assistance technology that best improves business functions will dramatically improve ROI. Making the correct AR tech investment the first time around will save money and reduce the need for repeat training. The impulse for businesses might be to choose smartphone-based AR applications because of their availability. However, hands-free options like smart glasses can also be a valuable option for technicians dealing with complex tasks.  

Evolve Your Talent Structure

To ensure a streamlined adoption of augmented reality remote assistance, roles within your organisation must change. Field technicians will need to be given updated job descriptions that include their new equipment and protocols. Additionally, older field technicians specialists can be moved from the field to a command center to serve as remote experts. This will ease the demands of the technician’s job, increasing retention rates and ensuring that the company doesn’t lose expert knowledge.

What industries use remote assistance AR?

Augmented reality remote assistance is quickly spreading across the business world, with industries ranging from insurance to retail, and beyond adopting the new technology.

Insurance

Augmented reality remote assistance has wide-ranging field service and customer service applications within the insurance industry. Via real-time video feeds of the customer’s environment, insurance companies can better address situations, such as post-accident evidence or inspections. The ability for a provider to instantly connect with a customer via remote assistance AR reduces avoidable dispatches while also decreasing customer waiting times.  

Augmented reality remote assistance also allows providers to work efficiently with a better idea of risk and claim. The interactive real-time video component of AR remote assistance improves fraud detection by enabling agents to gather visual evidence and to validate customers’ identities.

Oil and Gas

The oil and gas industry is one of the largest sectors in the world, generating billions of revenue annually.  Rising global demand is forcing the industry to boost KPIs which has led to its wholesale adoption of AR remote assistance. AR optimises the oil and gas industry in three key ways.

Easy maintenance: Connecting an expert at a call center with field technicians provides fast, effective maintenance solutions. On oil rigs, machine efficiency equals profit – a half day of pump downtime can incur up to USD $500,000 in lost revenue – so rapid, frictionless repairs are crucial.

Cost reduction: AR can be used to superimpose real-time information on top of real-time assets, decreasing workflow interruptions. In such cases, field workers can solve problems using remote assistance which cuts down on expert travel.

Improved safety: Augmented reality remote assistance enables more fluid remote collaboration and training. Additionally, with AR technology like smart glasses, technicians can operate hands-free without sacrificing performance.   

Retail

As shopping moves online, so does a company’s customer service platform. By using augmented reality remote assistance, businesses are able to develop omnichannel customer support.

Take, for example, a customer who purchased an item that requires assembly. If the customer has an issue, he or she can use remote assistance to connect to a help desk, and share via AR, a real-time video of their environment. The client can then be aided by the service agent through interactive AR interfaces to resolve the problem. Less time, less hassle, boosted customer satisfaction.    

A Bright Future for AR

As the field service and customer support sectors grow – the field service sector alone is expected to log over $5 billion in revenues by 2024 – so do the amount of use cases.  By tactfully implementing augmented reality remote assistance technology, companies will register significant efficiencies, boost profits, and increase customer satisfaction. 

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