In today’s word of rapidly expanding technology, it’s difficult to do anything without seeing or using the technology that’s responsible. Without realizing it, we’ve immersed ourselves in a digital world of watching, learning, purchasing, and living. Augmented reality wound its way into mainstream media subtly and without pretense, giving the illusion that it’s always been here. It hasn’t, but that’s certainly how it feels. With innovative uses like product demos, learning experiences and entertainment scenarios, augmented reality has helped businesses reach vast amounts of customers with nearly unintentional ease.
When products like this come into our lives, we can’t always see the benefits, or uses. As business owners, it’s important to realize how big tool that augmented reality service is, and how it impacts your business and your customer experience. It’s up to you do learn how to use it so that your customers don’t eve realise they’re reaping the rewards of your research.
So, What is Augmented Reality
Almost everybody by this point knows what virtual reality is- a digitally immersive experience created by headsets equipped with processors and display that give the user the illusion of being somewhere else. The level of immersion varies depending on its use case, but there is a definitive line between virtual and physical. Not as many people know what augmented reality is, and the reason for that is that they don’t need a head mounted display to use it. AR technology is a sneakier, less obtrusive way to have a digitally immersive experience.
Using a smartphone, tablet, or glasses, users can experience the digital world via image overlay onto the physical space around them. For instance, imagine you’re in a foreign country. You tried to climb over the language barrier with Duo Lingo three weeks before you left, and while it did give you a small step up it in no way eliminated that barrier, and certainly doesn’t help when trying to read the language. Here’s where augmented reality can come in handy.
Using a translation app on your phone, like Google Translate or an equivalent, place the viewfinder over the words you need translated, and on the display screen the words will appear in your native language, making it easier to navigate unfamiliar scenarios with ease.
This is augmented reality: an overlay of information, image, video, or text, onto the physical space around you. There are several different types of AR technology; location based AR, projection based AR, Overlay AR, and contour based AR. All can be used as a beneficial tool in your business.
Ways to Use AR in Your Business
There are four main ways that AR can be used in your business. It can:
- Improve brand awareness
- Demonstrate products
- Improve the customer experience and engagement and
- Streamline operations
Here are some more specific ways AR can be used.
Eliminating Barriers- To start, let’s consider the example of barriers from before. There are many barriers in general life that make it difficult for customers to interact with your business. Travel, language, cultural, and ability are just a few examples. Using augmented reality to eliminate or reduce them for your customers offers them a better customer experience and gives you a customer for life.
Marketing Efforts- Augmented reality is not often thought of as digitally revolutionary because of its everyday use in mainstream media. You may not have realized this, but you’re likely to come across dozens of augmented reality examples by opening up any social media app. Trying on glasses digitally, positioning a couch in your living room digitally, or trying out a new paint on your phone are all examples of augmented reality. AR technology as a marketing tool is an effective way of reaching and impacting new customers. In fact, companies that use AR technology have a 40% higher conversion rate than those who go without. (Source)
Product Visualization- With technology growing so quickly, it’s difficult for customers, whose only concern is how the product will make their life better, to know how to operate said product. Not every person is invested in the innerworkings of new technology, nor are they responsible for it. It’s the responsibility of the business owners, or product pundits to show the customer exactly how something works and how it will benefit them. With AR technology, you can develop product demonstrations, assembly instructions, and use cases effectively and efficiently, making it easier for the customer to make the ultimate decision. Who really wants a thousand sheets of paper cluttering their floor when one eco-friendly AR video will do the trick?
Improved Operations- In certain industries, like manufacturing and construction, augmented reality is used to improve operations in product design, factory layout, and maintenance and repairs, creating a more streamlined process for product creation. These improved processes make it easier for business owners to create the product that customers want with speed and efficiency, earning rapid feedback via non-traditional routes.
Increasing Customer Engagement- One of the main benefits of augmented reality and its use in social channels is that business owners and operators can receive real-time feedback on engagement, adjust marketing tactics accordingly, and offer more advantageous experiences for the customer swiftly. This ensures minimal product or marketing downtime for reevaluation and allows for better customer engagement.
Small Business Brands- Many customers are opting to purchase from smaller businesses for the benefit of the personable touch that they offer and for the sake of supporting a person they can be familiar with. Larger brands have a difficult time doing this because of the way they operate, so they use AR technology to leverage their expertise. Despite having a slight advantage in the personability factor, smaller businesses have a harder time reaching customers in the same way because of the lack of AR marketing tools. Instead, small businesses are reliant upon their personal story and creating an image around who they are as a person and what the product means to them. But this doesn’t mean they can’t use AR in their businesses. Combining AR technology with their personal story would offer their customers an unfamiliar, welcoming experience.
Employee Empathy Training- Augmented reality offers an immersive experience, making it well suited to situational training. Training employees to handle difficult customers, or simply customers who are having a hard time deciding on certain products or designs helps create a valuable experience and relationship between customer, employee, and business.
AR Technology- Creating a Better Customer Service Experience
The ultimate goal with augmented reality in business is to reach customers in a more engaging and influential way. Offering AR as a fun and interactive tool is a sure way to help customers have a positive experience with your company. It shows value, intention, and appreciation for the value they bring to your company. A business is only as good as the value it brings to its customers and while no, the customer is not always right (regardless of how the saying goes), it’s important to recognize gaps in value offerings. As the world turns to more advanced ways of trying out new products and experiencing the world around them, augmented reality development is filling this gap and creating fun and engaging ways for customers to interact with the brand, and for the brand to in turn develop better processes and experiences for them.