Augmented reality apps may seem like a cute novelty at first glance, but they can play a valuable and even transformational role in today’s customer experience. According to the “Impact of Emerging Technology on CX Excellence” report from Oracle and ESG, 61% of firms using virtual or augmented reality have increased customer satisfaction metrics as a result.
Companies are achieving this outcome by designing AR apps that solve customer problems, provide a convenient shopping experience, and make it easier to complete a purchase. Along the way, they’re forging meaningful relationships with their customers, generating brand awareness on social channels, and winning increased profits.
Here are a few examples of how businesses are using augmented reality to elevate CX along with some tips to keep in mind when creating augmented reality apps.
Taking the guesswork out of home decoration
Decorating a home isn’t just a creative act—it also requires a certain degree of logistical planning that can sometimes feel burdensome. For example, when selecting just the right table for your dining room or desk for your home office, you may have to break out a tape measure and visualize in your mind just how it would fit into the surrounding space. And, when purchasing a big ticket item that might also be large in size, most people understandably want to get it right on the first try rather than have to coordinate a complicated return process.
Brands like Home Depot set out to alleviate these points of friction in the customer experience through augmented reality apps. The augmented reality feature in Home Depot’s app boasts the ability to allow customers to visualize, right on their smartphone, how a piece of furniture would fit into an existing space. This simple CX improvement takes the guesswork out of home decorating, saving customers time and confusion.
Letting customers virtually try on clothing
Shopping for clothes and accessories poses a similar challenge for customers, even as they make more of their purchases online. A shoe that looks perfect on a retailer’s ecommerce website can end up being a disappointment at the moment of unboxing, negatively impacting customer satisfaction while racking up the retailer’s costs associated with the return. The alternative is for the customer to make the trek to a brick-and-mortar store and wait for an associate to bring a few pairs, and that’s not always an ideal option for time-crunched shoppers.
Converse, an early AR pioneer, solved this problem in 2010 by releasing an app called The Sampler that let customers virtually try on shoes from the comfort of their home. As Inc reports, they could place their foot in front of their smartphone’s or tablet’s camera to receive an AR-enabled fitting on the spot, even buying it directly within the app if desired. Or, if they wanted to get a second opinion from a friend, they could share a photo on Facebook—which, of course, had the added benefit of generating brand awareness for Converse. Though The Sampler is no longer available, it gave us an exciting preview of how AR-enabled CX improvements could enhance the shopping experience.
Educating car buyers on new automotive technology
As any car enthusiast will tell you, automobiles are rapidly becoming technologically advanced. Some experimental cars even feature AI that senses a driver’s emotional state or fatigue level. As our very conception of what a car is and how it works changes, car buyers understandably have a lot of questions about the technology under the hood and what it means for their driving experience. They also want to be sure they have all the information they need to make the right choice.
To help customers understand how the new Toyota C-HR hybrid vehicle works, the automotive manufacturer recently partnered with digital agency Brandwidth to create a Hybrid AR app that let customers see inside these new cars. As Techradar reports, prospective buyers can use the app to display the inner workings of the hybrid drivetrain on physical vehicles using an AR overlay and then tap on hotspots to learn more about key features. This educational AR app invites customers deeper into the purchasing funnel, appealing to technology aficionados in particular.
Tips for creating augmented reality apps
So how can your company create an augmented reality app with an excellent CX? Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating an AR app for your customers:
- Avoid deploying AR simply for the purpose of presenting your brand as innovative. As Search Engine Journal points out, you may still generate some buzz but it will likely be short-lived.
- Rather, make sure that your AR app solves a customer problem or alleviates friction in the CX. When it works best, AR is an empowerment tool that centers around actual customer needs while providing a better and more differentiated customer experience.
- Let your customers share their AR experience on social media or messaging apps. That will help them feel more confident and engaged about their purchasing decision and it will also have the side benefit of extending your brand awareness online.
Companies are already significantly improving their CX with augmented reality apps. According to the Impact of Emerging Technology on CX Excellence report mentioned above, 29% of survey respondents saw an almost immediate value after deploying AR/VR, and 29% realized similar benefits within 6 months. 84% of respondents even think that VR and AR have the potential to become more important than physical experience in the next 5 years.
For companies striving to raise the bar on their CX, AR offers a uniquely powerful option.