- How Automobile OEMs Should Choose Their AR Visual Platform
- The Bottom Line
Visual Assistance is an emerging technology that allows automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to visually guide and collaborate with owners, dealers and team members. Vehicle-related images and videos can be streamed to the OEM’s Customer Assistance Centers via a smartphone screen for quick comprehension or assistance with a wide range of automotive issues. When relevant, Augmented Reality can then be overlaid on the smartphone screen to help guide the user toward a resolution or visually confirm that the issue has been fixed.
Automobile OEMs can use visual assistance to deliver improved experiences to their owners and dealers. The technology enables fast, intuitive guidance for a wide range of automotive use cases including vehicle onboarding, concierge services, troubleshooting, roadside assistance, and dealership support for issues with warranty claims, part recalls and inventory support. Whether it’s a driver needing help with configuring his Bluetooth connections, a dealer reporting a defect with an engine cover, or an engineer experiencing an issue with the dashboard indication lights, visual assistance technology solutions can make it easy for support staff to get to the root cause of what needs to be fixed.
By delivering better support, manufacturers can inspire brand loyalty, improve the customer experience (CX)s, and reduce the owners’ requirement for in-person roadside assistance and aftermarket repair services.
Visual assistance technology is an evolving market, with many companies offering ‘see what your customer sees’ solutions. However, not all solutions are equal and may differ significantly in terms of capabilities and potential value. Here are the top seven factors to consider when selecting the visual remote assistance solution that will deliver the very best value for your automotive brand.
How Automobile OEMs Should Choose Their AR Visual Platform
1. Web-based or app-based?
If drivers are to use this tool in order to receive support, how will they speak with a Customer Assistance specialist? Does the tool have a smartphone app or is it entirely web-based? Depending on the OEM’s requirements, there are clear advantages to each. A native app-based solution can provide an all-in-one platform where owners can keep track of vehicle service milestones, edit personal details and upgrade connected service plans independently. A browser-based solution, on the other hand, means owners don’t have to download an app, driving higher customer acceptance rates. It also allows changes and upgrades to be made on the fly and enables rapid integration with the automotive brand’s virtual assistant across all channels. Most providers offer only one option, but a provider that offers both options is at an immediate advantage.
2. Single department Helpdesk vs. cross department enterprise platform
While a standalone single department solution can be ideal for small help desks or local operations, global automotive brands often opt for a cross-organizational enterprise platform in order to generate maximum value by driving knowledge sharing across service channels, including Customer Assistance centers, engineering staffs and digital self-service. For example, a dealer can share images of a vehicle’s engine captured during a visual assistance session to better prepare a technician for a site visit. A cross-organizational platform also allows warm transfer – including a complete visual record of the interaction – from self-service to a live agent, ideal for use cases that require authorization.
3. Integrations with the CRM and other assistive tools
Some remote visual support solutions are limited to co-browsing or other standalone remote desktop tools, while a few have been designed to integrate with CRMs and other contact center tools. If AR-enhanced support tools can seamlessly integrate with both helpdesk systems and CRMs, customer assistance and support teams will benefit from the information flow in terms of simplicity, reduced effort and greater adoption. For example, when enabling a team member to access a visual knowledge base of known “under the hood” issues, the lengthy manual search process is eliminated. Instead, the team benefits from contextual image-based decision support that cuts handle time and ensures more first-time fixes.
4. Automation and self-service powered by Computer Vision AI
The most advanced visual assistance solutions now leverage visual data to automate processes using Computer Vision AI, across Customer Assistance Centers, the dealer network and self-service channels. The technology can visually identify vehicle models, and recognize specific parts, including wires, cables, and under-hood components. It can also spot faults such as fine cracks, misalignments, and issues with light indicators. Once the root cause is identified, Computer Vision then provides step-by-step AR guidance on how to resolve it. It can also confirm that the job has been completed properly — all without the bottleneck caused when waiting for an engineer or remote expert to become available.
5. Smart glasses vs. mobile phones
Augmented reality can be delivered via smart glasses or mobile phones. Both offer high quality visual support and each delivery method has its own advantages and limitations. Wearable AR devices such as smart glasses offer users a hands-free experience, and are ideal for the engineering workforce. They are not suitable for applications involving vehicle owners. Screen-based AR is designed to provide mobile phone or tablet users with interactive video and digital content, applied on top of the image of physical reality. These applications utilize a standard mobile device’s existing components such as the camera, GPS, and touch screen elements to enhance the user’s view, and are ideal for widespread use, including owners, dealers and engineering resources.
6. Team member training and customer success
Visual transformation is a journey that involves a wide range of incremental changes to management processes. Despite the simplicity of the tool, it is always a challenge for OEMs to shift from the “tell me what you see” approach to the “show me” paradigm. When integrating any support solution, automotive OEMs should investigate the vendor’s after-sales support plans. What kinds of employee training processes does the vendor offer? The robustness of the training can make a key difference in terms of how successful the rollout will be. In addition, look carefully at the vendor’s track record in terms of customer success with the solution. Has the solution proven itself in terms of KPI improvements and ROI?
There are two main pricing models for Visual Assistance solutions. The vast majority rely on a monthly license model of either specific dealerships or a number of Customer Assistance specialists. When reviewing a vendor’s pricing, rather than simply opting for the cheapest cost per license, consider the potential value in terms of the most appropriate offering for the specific challenges or use cases the OEM wishes to address, the KPIs the OEM wants to improve and the desired level of adoption by both owners and dealers.
The Bottom Line
Differentiated support experiences are one way in which car manufacturers can make themselves stand out against the competition. AR-powered visual assistance is an innovative support technology that can help automobile OEMs better serve their owners and dealers, delivering a significant competitive advantage. Selecting the right visual assistance solution can make or break the initiative. Choose well.