ServiceMax Blog

How Augmented Reality Will Change the Field Service Industry

The following is a guest blog post from ServiceMax partner, Dispatch.  Adapted from a post that originally published on Dispatch’s blog.

For decades, augmented reality has inspired countless dystopian novels and movies. The portrait has painted a futuristic life, where any web-based file can be accessed with a simple blink, swipe, or movement of our body – think Minority Report.

That futuristic vision was brought to life in 2016 when Pokémon GO took the world by storm. Everyone was looking through their phones to see where these augmented Pokémon hid in every-day life. This augmented life is just the beginning. In fact, Apple will be bringing thousands of augmented reality apps to your smartphone when they announce its iOS 11 update this month.

Some augmented reality apps will be useless but some will be incredible, having large impacts on business operations. Goldman Sachs predicts that augmented reality will be an $80B market by 2025 and Gartner lists augmented reality among the critical technologies that businesses should prioritize.

An industry that we believe will greatly benefit from augmented reality is the field service industry and it’s evident that AR has gained the attention of field service enterprises.

Improved Service Delivery

Think of all the silos that prevent a truly connected service delivery. How many contacts does a client have to make before they can schedule a technician to come out to their home? How long does it take to get a field technician to respond?

AI will affect field service by providing a more digital and computerized experience that provides both assisted and self-service interactions. Augmented reality will help give customers a reason to buy and use your services by offering an immersive experience that can help build rapport and brand recognition by conveying your services in a virtual reality environment.

For example, you can use an augmented reality presentation to convey the difference between spoiled food in an old refrigerator compared to fresh food found in a repaired refrigerator. The augmented reality makes the potential client feel immersed in the experience and closer to the brand.

Change the State of Repairs

When out in the field, there will be a wide variety of needs and requests. At times, it can be quite awkward to work on a complicated machine while holding an operator’s manual–especially in front of the customer.

Instead, field service technicians will be able to use AR lenses to display and overlay the instructions to eliminate the need for a physical book. Not only will this help speed up the time it takes to make a repair, but it will also reduce user error.

Not to mention, an AR map of the machine can be sent to more senior technicians to remotely help newer technicians–as needed.

Augmented Assistance

There are times when service is best handled by a live person. Yet, there are also situations where augmented reality can take over. For minor repairs and service calls, a field technician may take a virtual form to help homeowners fix simple solutions. Instead of sending out a technician, virtual technicians can respond in an instant to cases where all the customer needs is a bit of guidance.

Perhaps user error is involved, and the customer needs someone to walk them through a quick repair. In these cases, AI can be combined with augmented reality to send a virtual technician that can pinpoint what the customer needs to do to get things back in working order.

The service is instant, easy, and straightforward. There is no need to use gas, mileage, or time to get to a client. Moreover, the issue is resolved rapidly. In the end, you have a happy client that feels accomplished, and you as a business have more time to handle additional work.  Also, this could be a new revenue stream for your business.

Make Better Decisions

Augmented reality, combined with AI, can help service companies and technicians make better decisions through an improved analysis of data gathered from marketing campaigns and customer contact. This does not mean that humans will be obsolete.

It does mean that organizations can do more, and gain deeper insights with the customer data they have accumulated. For example, they might learn that a specific zip code seems to have a higher prevalence for service calls around roach infestations and design solutions and marketing campaigns to meet those needs.

Not to mention, improved data analysis can help to determine which locations prefer augmented reality to in-person house calls.

The objective is to use that data wisely to gain a deeper understanding of the target market and align them with solutions that customers want and need.

Augmented reality is here, but it still has some barriers

The development of connecting backend systems with each unique environment, displaying it on each device that enables the augmented reality to exist, and scaling with larger organizations can prove to be very difficult. Not to mention when some devices are connected to the IoT and some are not. This digital transformation makes it tough to fully implement.  User adoption is also another barrier. It can be even more difficult for companies with older workforces to learn an entirely new digitally-focused process.

The easiest way to speed up the adoption of augmented reality is to have a technology independent application that connects these devices and disparate systems together. Additionally, this software should have a mobile and desktop app to make the deployment of AR simple and seamless.

These types of technological advancements will only help the field service industry continue to move forward in their quest for improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.