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Augmented Reality Remote Assistance – The Complete Guide

TechSee's complete guide to augmented reality (AR) remote assistance and support

Remote assistance AR is amazing. Customers love it, businesses love it, technicians love it – but what exactly is it? In this guide, TechSee explains exactly how augmented reality remote assistance works, why it is so beneficial to both customers and businesses, and what the future has in store. Complete with real examples of AR remote assistance in use as well as important tips to look out for when choosing a provider, this guide has it all.

What is augmented reality remote assistance?

Augmented reality remote assistance is an emerging technology that enables brand agents and product experts to visually guide and collaborate with customers and field technicians.  

The original concept of remote assistance is based on a technician’s ability to use a remote connection to temporarily view or control a computer or a mobile device over a network or the Internet in order to help solve software issues.

Augmented reality remote assistance takes this concept further. It uses AR and streaming videos to link the contact center and headquarters to the customer’s home or the field where the work is being performed. This enables agents to remotely solve hardware issues  – seamlessly bridging the physical and virtual worlds.

Watch this video to understand how using augmented reality to provide remote assistance works, or read on for a more detailed explanation.

How does remote assistance AR work?

By combining live video streaming with augmented reality, remote assistance AR can change the face of customer service forever. Here is an example of how a customer with technical difficulties often struggles to get the support they need:

John is having a problem with his home office modem. He calls technical support; the agent asks a series of questions.

John tries his best to describe to the customer service rep which lights are flashing and how it is affecting his Internet service.

Eventually, they identify the problem. The agent then verbally explains to John the series of steps he must take to resolve the issue.

If they are lucky,  the problem is resolved. Unfortunately, more often than not, the call ends with a failure, frustration and a truck roll.

Effective, sometimes. Efficient, never.

There is a better way.

Augmented reality remote assistance combines live video streaming, where images and videos are broadcast in real time, with augmented reality, an interactive technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the physical environment.

The combination of these two technologies creates a powerful collaborative solution for remote guidance. More efficient than auditory communication, visually demonstrating the desired action enables the customer to comprehend and execute the instructions faster.

Instead of the agent explaining the steps to John, he can show him what to do.

What can remote assistance augmented reality be used for?

Augmented reality remote assistance has a wide range of business applications, including technical support, billing proofs and contracting issues. It is useful across a wide range of industries. Here are some augmented reality remote assistance examples from different industries:

Technical Support: Agents can use remote assistance AR to more quickly identify and resolve common technical issues from afar. They achieve this by visually guiding the customer through the steps.

Examples include guiding customers through cleaning their washing machine filters, helping buyers unbox and install a smart security camera, troubleshooting TV error messages or cable wiring issues, or fixing Internet connectivity, as in John’s experience. Using remote assistance AR results in a faster and more effective call resolution, and more satisfying customer experience. Watch this video to see AR remote assistance in action!

Field services: AR remote assistance puts all necessary data and instructions in technicians’ hands in real-time. AR can help technicians gain immediate access to remote experts when necessary, streamline the field service process, quickly execute field repairs, or even communicate with customers. For example, they can use AR to survey a location prior to a dispatch or follow up after a visit.

Billing proofs and contracting issues: Documents can get confusing, with so many details and fine print.  With remote assistance augmented reality, agents can share a view of a physical document. This way, they can point at and address billing inquiries, invoice clarification or contract misalignment. The technology also allows agents to confirm, record and add data to CRM systems, gather proof of identity, validate coupons, or  see evidence of damaged goods prior to authorizing returns.

Who benefits from using AR remote assistance?

AR remote assistance benefits any business providing technical customer service over the phone or in person. Here are some more details about the benefits various types of organizations will enjoy:

Customer service organizations:  Contact center agents use AR to visually guide consumers in solving their technical problems. They provide real-time assistance and solutions as if they’re standing right next to the customer. This improves customer satisfaction, increases call center efficiency, reduces labor intensity, empowers call center agents to function as virtual technicians, and prevents unnecessary truck rolls

Field service organizations: Customer service agents can send field technicians visual data from customer service agents prior to being dispatched. This enables them to plan repairs before arriving on site. Technicians can transmit video and images of technical issues from the field while consulting with an expert or supervisor, located either in the field or at headquarters. This has several benefits:

  • Boosts productivity in the field
  • Increases first-time fix rate
  • Shortens time to resolution
  • Improves customer satisfaction through successful dispatches
  • Cuts technician training time while increasing expert support capacity

Which industries are using remote assistance AR?

Remote assistance AR is spreading rapidly across many industries, including communication service providers, consumer electronic brands, utility companies, insurance and financial organizations and many  more.

Communication service providers (telcos): With the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), CSPs are tasked with delivering and supporting a wider range of hardware devices and services to consumers. Remote assistance augmented reality helps ensure more efficient issue resolution, less costly hardware replacements and truck rolls, and higher levels of customer satisfaction, as this telecom provider happily discovered. For example, an agent can see the connections on the back of a customer’s set-top box, router, or modem. They can then immediately understand the problem and guide the customer to the correct connections.

Here’s how Tier-1 telecom Vodafone is harnessing remote assistance AR to better support their customers.

Consumer electronic brands  Whether supporting home appliances, smart devices or wearables, customer service agents who provide assistance with consumer electronics benefit from using remote assistance augmented reality. The technology helps agents better support customers throughout the lifecycle of their equipment, from installation and setup to updates and repairs.

With the growth of the smart home and proliferation of connected devices, AR remote assistance is the right solution at the right time, scaling the capabilities of enterprises to support  smart home adoption.

Watch how the employees of global electronics conglomerate Samsung  responded to the implementation of remote assistance augmented reality in their call centers.

Utility companies:  The new technology can improve the way utility companies process and resolve inquiries, including troubleshooting and maintenance, hazard reporting, billing inquiries and installation guidance. The technology helps utilities reduce operational costs, increase adoption of smart utility devices, promote safety in the field, and boost customer satisfaction.

Insurance and financial institutions: With AR remote assistance, customers can easily gain clarity on billing or invoice inquiries, with the agent sharing  their view and pointing where necessary. Agents can use it to validate customer identities, or gather specific visual evidence or proof for disputes.

The technology also helps support insurance-based IoT devices, such as in-vehicle telecommunication devices, smart smoke and CO detectors, and digital doorbells. These are increasingly being used for alerts, damage detection, and risk and claim assessment.

Insurance companies have found additional value in visual claims, allowing customers to transmit images and videos of their claims to adjustors for  faster and more accurate claims processing, more efficient remote adjustment, better risk classification, improved documentation handling and reduced fraud.

Watch to see how Dutch insurance company Achmea is using remote assistance augmented reality to speed up the claims process and impress their customers.

Other organizations benefiting include IT companies, retailers and machinery manufacturing companies, among others.

What should I look for when searching for an augmented reality remote assistance vendor?

There are a number of solutions on the market, and it’s important to choose the right one for your business. TechSee has years of experience providing a versatile augmented reality tool for remote assistance across a range of businesses and niches. In this section, they draw on their experience to point out several features to look out for when making a decision.

It’s important to understand the components of a good platform. On the most basic level, the platform must efficiently connect customer service agents and the customer with minimal friction.  Following that, there are four key areas to focus on when researching vendors: delivery method to the consumer, device types available, features and track record.

  1.     Delivery method: Is the technology delivered via a browser or via an app? Apps must be downloaded and installed, presenting a barrier to customers and slowing down the resolution process. Does the browser solution works for both IoS and Android?
  2.     Devices: Is the technology available over mobile devices?  If so, which ones? IoS, Android, tablets? Smart glasses? Are you aiming to use the solution with consumers or with technicians? What are the most common devices they are using? You can read our in-depth comparison of mobile devices vs. smart glasses specifically in the context of field service organizations for help on how to decide.
  3.     Robust platform with key features:
    • A robust knowledge-base should feature CRM integration, customer history for recurring issues, a visual agent reference library for best-path resolutions, and embedded visual call script guidance. 
    • Clear AR annotation tools, file transfer capabilities, robust security and privacy protocols, digital signatures. Enterprise analytics and reporting tools should be available as well.
    • The solution must be extremely simple and intuitive for both agent and consumer to use. It should integrate a hands-free option, and should not require downloads, app stores, logins or passwords.
    • Lastly with AI and automation around the corner, computer vision and AI capabilities are important for enhancing future use of the solution. By leveraging the data accumulated during current sessions, the technology can  help resolve and automate support with the help of smart visual tech assistants.
  1.     Track record: As an emerging technology, there are many solutions on the market that differ greatly in maturity and reliability. The vendor should have proven track record! Do your due diligence when checking for a relevant customer base, proven capabilities, and recent relevant success storiesץ

What does the future hold?

With Goldman Sachs  predicting that AR will be an $80B market by 2025, the future seems promising for forward-thinking companies who implement remote assistance AR.  In fact, the 2017 Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies names augmented reality as an emerging technology mega-trend, showing promise in delivering a high degree of competitive advantage over the next 5-10 years. It suggests that enterprises and technology innovation leaders explore AR to understand the future impacts to their business. As Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts during a fourth-quarter earnings call, “AR is going to change everything.”    

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