Augmented  and Virtual Realities will Transform Service Cultures—
Part I of 2 

by Tom Larkin and Christopher Bishop

Imagine viewing documents with no computer in sight, or taking a virtual safari sitting on a folding chair at the mall. Welcome to the world of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

Given the rate and pace at which technology is transforming every aspect of our world, it is easy to understand why we might feel anxious about using tools like these. To be sure, some aspects of tech breakthroughs are a bit off-putting or even downright scary. But apprehension about new technology is a reaction that likely dates to the time of the caveman.

Surely, those folks huddled at the front of the cave and wrapped in their saber-toothed tiger skins were afraid of fire until they learned how to control it. The good news is we humans have learned how to tame and incorporate new technologies and use them to our advantage for literally thousands of years.  ATM’s didn’t replace bank tellers as feared.  In fact, they gave tellers more flexibility and the opportunity to better serve their customers.

The Future of Providing Exceptional Customer Service

The concept of using specific tools and skills to assist customers has not really changed for decades. The objective has always been to provide exemplary customer interaction and problem resolution. Current solutions certainly work well and deliver high levels of customer satisfaction.  And, using AR and VR to build on our existing model will only raise the bar and offer tremendous opportunity for improved customer interaction.

Lots of companies in different industries are already exploring a range of uses for AR and VR. Some have a vision of helping the customer better use their products, others are exploring ways to enhance customer relations. Porsche for example is developing an augmented reality heads up display for their cars that puts information on the windshield. It not only shows the vehicle’s speed and fuel levels, it also displays alerts about construction zones and free parking spots.

We are at a seminal moment in the development of immersive technologies that will inspire a whole new approach.  And, this all equates to big business opportunities. The global market for AR products alone is expected to surge 80 percent to $165 billion by 2024, according to the research firm Global Market Insights. For forward-thinking, innovative leaders, AR and VR can create the next generation of exceptional service delivery. Many are already working to re-educate their workforce to use the features of these technologies successfully.

Keep in mind, advances in telecommunications—telephones, global networks, computers—are what ushered in the current generation of call centers and help-desk practices. Similarly, AR and VR-driven help desks will become more widespread as service companies adopt this technology. For example, AR headsets like Microsoft’s HoloLens, Vuzix Blade and SOLOS Smart Glasses are all on the market and ready for developers to explore. Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive –the leading VR headsets—are getting cheaper and more powerful.

In Part 2, we’ll explore specific ways AR and VR will revolutionize how we exceed our customers’ expectations.  This technology gives us the opportunity to truly combine high tech with high touch to develop outstanding relationships.
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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