CGS Survey Reveals Consumer Interest in Emerging Tech for Customer Service Guidance
CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services, announced new insights from its 2021 CGS State of Augmented Reality (AR) in Customer Service Survey. Now a year into the global pandemic and social distancing, emerging technology such as AR, offers opportunities for brands to create simulated, real-world experiences and interact with consumers from their individual devices – smartphones and tablets.
With shelter-in-place beginning in March 2020, and the subsequent fallout from the pandemic that has continued to date, many consumers dramatically altered their lifestyles – including their approach to the repair and assembly of household products. Companies have evolved much of their customer service strategy to address heightened consumer needs, some accelerating the implementation of technology support as an option. One of the ways in which more consumer-facing companies are connecting with and supporting their customers is through augmented reality, where an expert guides the user through steps via smartphone or tablet.
To gauge consumers interest in using AR as a customer service tool, CGS surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. individuals. Research focused on their interest and exposure to AR, with remote assistance in making repairs or assembling new products.
Key findings include:
Consumer Activism and the Pandemic Changed Customer Service Expectations Forever
Consumer activism and ecological concerns are becoming driving forces for more DIY product repair. The survey found nearly 30 percent of consumers support the “Right to Repair” movement, defined by lawmakers as a push to manufacturers to make parts, tools and information available to consumers in an effort to avoid devices ending up in landfills. When tasked with a household repair or product assembly in the past year, more than 70 percent of consumers figured out how to fix it themselves. Yet, of those unable to DIY, 61 percent said that they threw away a household appliance in the past year, with 27 percent citing challenges to receiving repair service. Among those cited include inconvenience of shipping back an item, not wanting a technician in their home and being unable to reach a representative by phone, as reasons for tossing out an item.
Interest in AR-Enabled Service Interactions Is Rising, Especially with Younger Generations
Many Americans brought new technology into their homes in the past year through their education and work, and this trend extended to their service interactions as well. Nearly half the survey respondents (42 percent) stated that they would be interested in using technology in which an expert guided them through steps either via a smartphone or tablet to fix an item. Almost half of consumers (45 percent) said they would give augmented reality guidance a try when attempting to set up, install or repair their phone, internet or other technology, followed by set up, installation or repair of their household appliances (36 percent). And, 29 percent of consumers would give AR guidance a try for simple car repairs (e.g., replacing windshield wiper blades). Leading the way in interest in AR-driven guidance from experts is the 35-44-year-old age group with 51 percent exclaiming interest. This was followed by those aged 25-34 (45 percent), who also expressed interest in this offering.
Education and Exposure to AR will Be Vital for Future Success
More visual, immersive interactions, such as AR coupled with real-time service, will help resolve common consumer frustrations in the years to come. Survey respondents state that they would prefer to try AR guidance instead of mailing in an item (34 percent), taking the item to a physical store (32 percent) or having a technician come into their home (25 percent). However, 43 percent of respondents stated that AR has never been offered to them as an option when attempting a household installation or repair, revealing a window of opportunity for brands that have yet to offer AR guidance as an option. A recent Futurum study identified that one-third of brands surveyed are speeding up investments in AR and VR technology over the next two years – specifically around customer instruction and support – but education on the benefits to using it will be critical for consumer adoption.
“Business leaders must reposition their strategies to be more customer-centric,” said Phil Friedman, president and CEO, CGS. “As our survey demonstrates, consumers are eager and ready to embrace technology, such as Augmented Reality. We are seeing consumers rise to the challenge of repairing rather than disposing of items. To advance this trend, businesses must provide a visually engaging means to help their customers.”
“In 2021, customers are going to motivate brands to up-level their offerings,” said Steven Petruk, president of Global Outsourcing division, CGS. “Augmented reality is a natural next step for businesses wanting to provide expert guidance to customers at-home, meeting them where they want to learn and interact using their own devices – whether a smartphone or tablet. With more consumers enabled and empowered to tackle DIY fixes, AR technology will combat throwaway culture and create new interactions between brands and their customers.”