July 24, 2017
Read how enterprises are creating innovative customer service initiatives with wearable technologies:
Audi is keen on Virtual Reality to improve the car buying experience, making it more engaging and memorable. At several dealerships in Germany, Audi shoppers can strap on VR headsets to visualize the luxury automaker’s cars in a number of virtual landscapes of varying lighting conditions, from Paris to the surface of the moon. They can virtually experience the vehicle features and customization options for Audi’s entire car range and even peek under the hood of any vehicle.
Car buyers today tend to come to the dealership only to discuss price, having already done their research online. Audi hopes to change this, making the in-person experience more informative and persuasive than a website; and it hopes that many of its customers will get to experience VR for the very first time in its showrooms. While the VR models are based on the actual vehicle designs, Audi partnered with Zerolight to develop virtual experiences not possible in the real world. So, shoppers can view their dream cars in a moon crater and look past the sheet metal to the underlying technical components thanks to an X-ray effect.
While the initial six-dealership trial hasn’t yet indicated an increase in car sales, sales of add-on car options have risen thanks to VR. Audi thinks the technology will be especially valuable in urban showrooms where space is limited, allowing shoppers to view unlimited vehicle possibilities.
Ford is also working on a VR platform to utilize dealership space more effectively and possibly turn the customer’s own home into a showroom, along with exploring Augmented Reality in the form of hologram display cars layered onto the real world. Like Audi, Ford envisions shoppers being able to have bespoke VR experiences, choosing the paint color, interior finish, and even the time and place for a virtual test drive.
It’s not just your employees who benefit from smart glasses-enabled remote support; your customers can be better served remotely, as well. Consider the case of Norden Machinery, a Swedish company that provides tube filling systems mainly for the Health and Beauty industries (think cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, etc.) Norden’s clients are located all over the world, and some need to fill as many as 1,000 tubes per minute to meet production goals. Each minute of downtime for these manufacturers means significant financial loss.
Norden Machinery’s systems require specialist skills to troubleshoot and repair; yet the company’s customer service department is based in Kalmar, and it’s not possible to have an expert at every customer site. Encouraged by customer demand, Norden partnered with XMReality to improve its support services, making it possible for its engineers to help customers remotely by viewing the problem through an on-site employee’s smart glasses. Norden’s service personnel can guide the customer without being physically there with them, which speeds up issue resolution and increases customer satisfaction.
Lifestyle Home Builders
There are numerous examples at this point of architects, builders and realtors introducing Virtual Reality technology into both their work processes and client interactions. Consumers desire more convenient ways to hunt for properties and work with contractors, and are already increasingly buying homes found through a mobile app. What most homebuyers lack, however, is the ability to visualize in three dimensions from a two-dimensional drawing. VR is a game-changer because it allows the user to experience a property that doesn’t yet exist and truly understand things like the spatial relationships between rooms.
Virginia-based Lifestyle Home Builders is one firm inserting VR into the custom home building and buying experience. The company adapted building information modeling (BIM) and off-the-shelf software so that customers can virtually walk through completed versions of houses under construction using a VR headset.
While other designers and builders are using similar technology to show model homes or bring stock floorplans to life; Lifestyle’s VR platform gives homebuyers the chance to see their custom homes before they’re built and make changes in the planning stage as opposed to after building commences. This helps reduce costs, errors and frustrations for both buyer and designer.
From building custom homes to selling houses under construction: PulteGroup, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, is providing VR headsets to help customers view the interior of homes for purchase. Homebuyers can now take virtual tours of potential future houses in Pulte’s new Starkey Ranch and The Retreat at Carmel communities, where the model homes are not yet completed.
PulteGroup has found VR to be a “phenomenal selling tool.” There’s really no other medium for consumers to experience a home that will exist in the future, to see its features, get a sense of the space and imagine living there, and feel comfortable signing a contract.
The Starkey Ranch VR experience is based on live tours of existing, decorated homes in other communities; while the VR experience for the Carmel community was created using computer-generated imagery (CGI) onsite. Thanks to the technology, about a third of the condos in Carmel have already sold.
Air New Zealand
In addition to car makers, manufacturers, and home builders; airlines and airports have found ways to revitalize their industries by incorporating wearable technologies into customer service:
Air New Zealand is trialing HoloLens to enhance on-board flight services. The airline partnered with Dimension Data to develop an Augmented Reality solution that will help stewards better serve passengers by showing them personalized data about individuals on the plane. For instance, while interacting with a passenger, the steward’s HoloLens headset would display information like whether that person has special dietary needs.
The goal is to use the technology to anticipate travelers’ needs and elevate the airline’s customer service with greater personalization.
Emirates also believes in the power of augmented reality to enhance customer service. As the luxury airline faces competition from cheaper rivals, weakening oil prices, growing security concerns, and declining profits; it is considering ways to equip staff with AR glasses to provide more personalized service.
As the technology is still in its infancy, the Dubai-based airline has no immediate plans to roll out AR devices either in its operations or customer service. Nevertheless, AR presents an attractive business model for the future: Emirates staff will hopefully one day use smart glasses displaying passengers’ names and travel habits, while travelers may use similar devices to navigate airports and browse flight food, beverage and entertainment options.
Cincinnati Airport (CVG)
Smartwatches are beginning to gain real traction in the enterprise, especially in customer service use cases. The reason for this is that smartwatches are far less conspicuous than smart glasses and therefore a more ideal glanceable device that won’t interfere with the employee-customer interaction. We’re also starting to see the first enterprise-ready (i.e. tested and secured) smartwatch solutions:
The Cincinnati Airport recently trialed Samsung Gear S3 smartwatches to help janitors stay on top of restroom cleanups and supplies—not an insignificant aspect of one’s airport experience.
Approximately 6.7 million passengers go through Cincinnati Airport each year. With that number increasing, CVG needed better, real-time insight into airport traveler flow patterns to sync up its janitorial staff’s movements with use of restroom facilities, especially in non-ticketed, public areas like baggage claim. The idea was to become more predictive as opposed to responsive in its housekeeping efforts.
Working with Samsung partner Hipaax, CVG integrated data from sensors in four baggage claim and arrival area restrooms with Hipaax’s TaskWatch application. Once 150 users passed through a restroom, the app sent a notification to the housekeeping staff to attend to that facility. An employee could accept the task using his/her smartwatch.
If the solution continues to be a success, CVG will roll it out in 2018. In addition to tracking the number of users, the technology can track how long it takes to clean restrooms. Such data could be used to motivate employee performance through gamification. The airport is also considering employing smartwatches in its concierge services and for emergency communications among staff.