Boost your field service with Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence
Let’s start with a basic question: how much attention are you giving your existing customers?
A basic calculation for many companies is the cost of new customer acquisition. Sure, new customers are important, but let’s take a look at the facts:
It costs FIVE TIMES as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, yet 44% of companies have a greater focus on customer acquisition vs. 18% on retention
For manufacturing and machinery suppliers, these numbers are even higher. But what if your existing customers could bring in even more money? Often, selling more product is the focus and new revenue streams are overlooked. Unfortunately, customers may not need more of your product – but that doesn’t mean the door is closed to increase revenue. Add in a dash of advanced technology and things get exciting.
Adding value to the products you offer is a key way to improve numbers. It also sets apart your most valued and valuable customers, giving you a way to better serve the customers that need you the most. It’s important for it to be seamless, easy and affordable. Service offerings should be a part of the package, not an afterthought. To illustrate, let’s take a look at an example.
A manufacturer in Germany makes a module that levels platforms on industrial machinery. Inside the module are sensors and wires and communication devices to allow this leveling device to trigger the hydraulic stand repositioning, report changes in temperature, and alert outages. The module is about the size of a deck of cards. There are several moving parts, onboard software, indicator lights and wires.
The manufacturer sells these modules all over the world. They know that there are three times service calls are most likely to happen: one, on installation; two, when a moving part wears out/malfunctions; or three, when software is out-of-date. It is impractical for the company to send a technician to fix the unit, and it is cost prohibitive for their customers to buy a whole new unit if something goes wrong.
Imagine the customer getting an alert that the sensor is malfunctioning. They send an on-site operations tech and find all the lights blinking. A glance inside the panel reveals 12 wires and four trigger buttons. They head back to their desk, do a search online for the manufacturer, figure out the right part, download a 45-page manual, and start to read to troubleshoot this part.
An hour later, the problem still is not solved so they call the manufacturer but this customer is located in California and the German manufacturer has closed for the day, so they wait. Early the next day a tech at the manufacturer gets on the phone and walks the on-site tech through a repair, and after several failed attempts (oops, not that red wire the OTHER red wire), the part begins to function and operations resume.
A Question of Process
This typical scenario can be changed and both the customer and manufacturer can benefit from a slightly different process. The question is how can this module manufacturer offer its customers a product that will perform as expected and instead of a one-and-done sale, turn a profit with recurring revenue post-sale?
One answer is an SLA – or service level agreement – that adds value to a purchased product post-sale. But not any SLA, because that would be boring and old-school. A new type of SLA supported by advanced technology: namely, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
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Post-Sales Maintenance and Support for the 21st Century
By bringing remote support into the 21st century, resolutions happen quicker and customers are happier as their costs are ultimately lower and predictable and up-time is increased.
We’ve seen some of the most successful SLAs occur when field-deployed products require routine maintenance to run at their optimal performance, when there could be a few different resolutions to an issue, and when experts are not local or readily available.
As a manufacturer you could equip each of your most valued customers with an SLA that is supported by the features in a smart device app. By literally putting knowledge into the palm of their hand, the on-site technician can see what the problem is and what needs to be done without your intervention. It enables autonomous resolution – with the application’s assistance of course – leading to lower costs, quicker resolution, and happier customers.
Also, because the knowledge base of this part and repair has been aggregated from sites all around the world in the manufacturer’s app, the likelihood of something completely new and unknown is mitigated. An artificial intelligence engine learns from every intervention and that knowledge is imparted where and when it is needed. The augmented reality visual (which can include overlaid arrows, pinpointed problem areas, and access to the knowledge to make the repair including steps, parts and PDF manuals, all in one interface) streamline the process.
Broaden the SLAs to preventive maintenance (e.g. the manufacturer knows this part typically lasts 18-20 months, so in month 17 they will proactively ship the customer a new part for replacement when most convenient). Make it an exclusive “club” for only the top customers. Offer additional value as a package. Customers feel special, have access to better support, and are more likely to purchase from you going forward.
Not Just for Manufacturers
The implications of using augmented reality and artificial intelligence in next-generation SLA are far reaching. if you are a machinery supplier, you can guarantee advanced remote assistance on your equipment. Imagine the possibilities with retrofit installations and how you will further gain customer trust when you are able to remotely diagnose and repair equipment?
Are you a Distributor? Do you want to retain your customers, usually installers? No problem. You can offer a customer loyalty program including remote assistance and a maintenance SLA package to your best installers. This again promotes additional trust, keeping customers in your inner circle, and enhances performances while saving money and decreasing customer turnover.
In the end, every company needs to make money and wants to increase profits. Recurring and predictable income through value-added offerings and SLAs are a huge boost for revenue numbers and help insure future cash flow with customer retention and future acquisition. Plus, using the latest technology available including augmented reality and artificial intelligence reduces your costs with an automated system for issues, requiring less human intervention. Happy customers equal higher profits.
Livemote brings together augmented reality and artificial intelligence to improve field service operations, help sales increase profitability and develop new revenue streams, maximize efficiency in facilities management, and drive innovation. What can Livemote do for you? Request a free demo today and check out all the possibilities because with Livemote AR & AI, seeing is believing.