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Augmented Reality: Enhancing the Customer Experience

Imagine taking a basic piece of print marketing collateral, and with a simple scan of your smartphone, it unfolds into a three-dimensional, multisensory, and interactive experience of your brand, services, and products. This brand enhancement is an everyday experience for brands that use Augmented Reality (AR) technology.

 

AR, which uses QR code technology to layer high-tech content on top of static print, can significantly impact the world of customer experience in a wide variety of innovative and convenient ways. CX applications might include:

  • Product Visualization: AR allows customers to better visualize products in realistic settings, such as seeing how a piece of furniture might look in their own homes.
  • Immersive Marketing and Shopping: Customers can experience products in a unique, immersive way, leading to increased interest and engagement. AR can allow customers to virtually “try on” products before purchasing, which can increase purchase confidence and reduce the likelihood of returns.
  • Enhanced In-Store Experiences: AR can enhance the in-store shopping experience, not just online shopping. Customers can quickly receive personalized recommendations, navigate stores more efficiently, or access additional product information such as origin, materials, or user reviews.
  • Personalization: AR technology can tailor experiences to individual customers, based on their preferences and past interactions. This level of personalization can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Customer Support and Troubleshooting: With AR technology, customers could simply scan a product and instantly receive interactive, step-by-step guidance on installation, troubleshooting, or usage.
  • Accessibility: AR can make products and services more accessible, providing alternative ways for customers with disabilities to interact with and understand products.

 

Although it began as a relatively niche technology, AR has rapidly taken off, and it’s paying dividends for brands that are leaning in. According to research from Deloitte and Snap Inc., 100 million people used AR for shopping at home or in store in 2021, and those numbers are projected to keep growing rapidly, especially among younger generations (Gen Z and Millennials are 71% more likely to use AR all the time, versus older generations). The research also found that brands are 41% more likely to be considered if they offer AR experiences, and AR can deliver almost double the levels of visual attention, leading to improved recall and more powerful consumer responses.

 

AR, like other QR code technologies, are an excellent way to allow customers to instantaneously interact further, dig deeper, and get more information. It adds a multisensory experience, which in turn improves brand recall. Deloitte and Snap found that AR interactions lead to a 94% higher conversion rate than those without. NielsenIQ, meanwhile, found that 56% of shoppers say AR gives them more confidence about product quality, and 61% say they prefer to shop with retailers that offer some kind of AR experience.

 

The Harvard Business Review also conducted research on how AR experiences affected customer behavior, finding that, among other things, it leads to more extensive sampling and, eventually purchasing. In the study, customers who used AR spent an average of 20.7% more time on the brand’s app and viewed 1.28 times more products, and their likelihood of making a purchase during the session was 19.8% higher.

Opportunities to use AR to enhance CX might include:

  • Allow audiences to “test drive” an experience
  • Let customers be virtually immersed in an experience
  • See how a product would fit into a customer’s space
  • Make graphics and text seem to pop off the page
  • Connect directly to more online info about a product or experience
  • Provide more useful instructional guides

Today’s customers want more interactivity and more customization, and AR is a great way to tie those things together while also benefiting the brand by collecting more data – which in turn can be turned into even more tailored content and personalized strategies.

 

The Importance of Tech-Savvy, Forward-Thinking Leadership

 As AR becomes increasingly important for enhancing customer experiences across various industries, it’s important to have forward-thinking, innovation-minded leaders who are prepared to leverage the latest technology to set their brands apart. When Blue Rock searches for CX leaders who fit the bill, we look for a number of traits and skills beyond just a basic understanding of AR and similar technology, including:

 

Innovation Mindset: Effective use of AR is more than just adding the technology into your strategy – you need a creative leader who’s ready to explore the possibilities and collaborate with various departments on developing truly engaging applications.

 

Customer-Centric Approach: The key to effectively integrating AR into your CX strategy is to determine what parts of the customer journey can be best enhanced by the technology. Experience with customer-facing services, feedback, and analytics can give an executive the necessary background to think from a problem-solving perspective.

 

Digital Transformation and Change Management: AR can represent a big shift for brand strategy. Look for leaders with experience overseeing successful changes, particularly with experience integrating new technologies into CX. Along similar lines, experience with vendor selection, contract negotiation, and relationship management will be critical to working with vendors who develop and manage the actual technology supporting AR solutions.

 

Project Management: Successfully implementing AR technology can involve managing complex projects with many moving parts and collaborating with cross-functional teams. Strong project management experience is a must to ensure nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

 

Data Analytics: Along with enhancing the direct customer experience, AR and related technologies can generate significant data about how customers interact with a brand, what they engage with, and what they want more of. CX leaders should be able to interpret this data to make informed decisions and adjust CX strategy as needed.

 

Continuous Learning: The field of AR is rapidly evolving, with new developments and possibilities constantly appearing. Leaders should be committed to continuous learning – both for themselves and for their teams – to keep up with the latest developments and applications.

 

Augmented reality technology can bring CX into a new era of flexibility, creativity, and customer-driven success. CX leaders who are innovative, customer-centric, and adept at managing technology-driven projects, with strong data analysis, collaboration, and change management skills, will be well-positioned to leverage AR effectively in enhancing customer experiences. Blue Rock Search is here to help your team find those top CX leaders to drive continued success.

 

By Dawn Russell

 

About the Author

As Managing Director and CX Executive Search Practice Leader for Blue Rock, Dawn brings her Social Talent Black Belt skills and deep analytic abilities to bear, developing quality talent pipelines for a variety of diverse industries focused on Customer Experience. Dawn is the only Managing Director at Blue Rock Search that is equally knowledgeable in three of our five specialties, including Customer Experience, Franchise, and Human Resources.

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