Customer service is busier than ever. According to one 2020 survey, 45% of U.S. consumers have required technical assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. These growing call volumes – coupled with the continuous need for cost optimizations – have driven the demand and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality in customer service.
Both AR and visual AI technologies, such as computer vision, have become increasingly practical and affordable, and are key elements in transforming customer service into a value-driver for organizations.
Because Seeing Is Better Than Telling
Brands are recognizing the need to add “eyes” to their customer service offerings – visual strategies are the hottest trend right now. Creating a visual interaction between an agent or technician and a customer in need of assistance is the fastest path to success.
Both can see the same physical environment through the customer’s smartphone. The agent or tech can use the power of video, augmented reality, and computer vision AI to guide the customer across every touchpoint from sales, onboarding, unboxing, setup, and troubleshooting to operational guidance, maintenance, and repair.
Instead of customer service attempting to explain with words how customers can fix their issues, they can visually show them step-by-step. The use of vision delivers practical help, builds relationships with customers, and enables customer service to generate more revenue.
But true visual engagement is more than just a tool to help you “see what your customer sees” – it’s a centerpiece of digital transformation.
The Journey Toward Visual Transformation in Customer Service
Organizations embedding visual technologies within their digital strategy are embarking on a multi-phase journey. This journey involves several stages where vision is added to more touchpoints, use cases, and departments over time while automating repetitive tasks.
As organizations advance along the path toward Visual Transformation, their visual offerings become more mature. This maturity improves their level of service, enhances the customer and employee experience, optimizes costs, and generates revenues from upsells – all benefits that boost ROI over time.
Stage 1: Live Visual Assistance
With live visual assistance, the customer service agent or remote expert can see what the customer is seeing, making it much easier to provide live assistance and guidance.
For example, an agent can ask to see the customer’s router and explain that a cable is plugged into the wrong port. Imagine replacing “Do you understand what I am describing?” with “See the blue cable near your right hand? Plug that into the 3rd port.” and being able to point to that on-screen. Game-changing, right?
Live visual assistance also sets the stage for agents or technicians to drive revenue through upsells. If that same rep sees that the customer’s router is damaged or outdated, he can suggest a new model and make the sale on the call.
Stage 2: Visual Automation
Visual automation for agents is where a visual assistant can offer decision support for agents by recognizing the problem and providing the employee with the next-best actions to fix the issue.
For example, a customer who calls to troubleshoot a non-working coffee machine can be instructed to capture images or video of the product. The system automatically recognizes the model, detects the error, and supplies the agents with the steps needed to fix it.
Visual automation reduces employee effort, drives faster resolutions, enhances customer experience, and cuts costs by optimizing customer service resources with dramatically simplified interactions. At this stage, organizations see significant improvements in a wide range of actions from product registration to warranty validation to prep for installation or repair procedures.
Stage 3: Visual Guidance
The most advanced stage is visual guidance, where customer service can leverage all their stored visual data to equip automation tools with smart eyes – like a chatbot or IVR that can see.
At this stage, a visual customer assistant can deliver full self-service resolutions without interactions with human agents. The visual assistant can automatically recognize the product and its parts, identify the issue, and provide the resolution for the customer.
For example, a customer needs help troubleshooting their security system, which is making chirping noises. With visual guidance, the customer interacts with a visual tech assistant that can see using the power of computer vision AI. The customer is guided to capture images of the alarm’s control unit. The system recognizes the device and then provides the customer with step-by-step guidance to resolve the issue.
This stage of visual automation decreases incoming call volumes with higher deflection to self-service channels, optimizing agent utilization by eliminating repetitive inquiries and empowering staff to deal with more complex cases.
If your customer service function is still flying blind, the time to open your ‘eyes’ has come. You should analyze the ROI to determine how much you can save by implementing augmented reality and visual AI technologies based on the KPIs relevant to your company.
About the Guest Author(s)
Amir Yoffee is the COO and co-founder of TechSee. He's focused on building and commercializing enterprise products and service solutions, from video to security technologies. Amir was formerly CEO of Avnet and CastUP (acquired by Cisco) and served as a director at Cisco. He holds an MBA in Marketing from Ha'Kirya Ha'Academit.