Article

The Augmented Reality We Work In

Early adopters of augmented reality are finding new layers of success in sales, and the potential for the service department could be even greater.

September 2017, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by Rob Butz

Getty Images
Getty Images

Augmented reality is making a mark on the automotive industry as it connects the real world with a virtual one. As the technology continues to become more widespread, dealers have an opportunity to consider how the technology will resonate in their businesses.

You may benefit from using AR in your sales, service and technician training efforts. With AR offering wide-ranging benefits, dealers and managers should understand the innovation and its advantages to be better prepared for the advanced technology.

Layers of Intrigue

AR works by bringing all relevant information about a process, procedure or product directly to the end user by displaying it in the user’s field of view on the actual product. With AR, real and virtual worlds connect to make everyday work more efficient and customer interaction more effective.

A user can simply point the camera of their mobile device at a designated area of the product — in this case, a vehicle — with repair instructions, connectors and wiring harnesses, component locations and other data superimposed on the engine, dashboard or anywhere else on the vehicle.

The technology presents the opportunity for dealerships to improve the customer experience of shopping for a new vehicle or automotive accessories. Physical dealerships can be enhanced with a virtual showroom with the introduction of AR. Shoppers can virtually view vehicles they are considering for purchase, in the exact trim they are interested in.

With the ease of accessing the app, the sales force can easily overlay various features and upgrades onto vehicles to help customers visualize available options. Customers can see options like a bedliner, roof rack, running boards, splashguards and more with AR.

Augmented Estimates

In the service department, AR can help bridge the gap to simplify communication between customers and service center professionals. With such complex systems and equipment in vehicles, there is the potential for misunderstanding or confusion when technical repairs are explained. With AR, a technician can superimpose a visual of the repair onto the vehicle to provide clarity. This tool helps technicians address customer concerns quickly and effectively, while building rapport and trust.

After a customer is aware of the repair needed, AR can help to cut down on the time required to complete the fix. With AR, the technician can get on-demand knowledge by augmenting information about the product at the time it’s needed, making them more efficient.

Technicians can find necessary components faster with the visual aid in a complex vehicle system. Once a technician can target the area and focus on the repair needed, the vehicle can be fixed faster to increase both customer satisfaction and service center efficiencies.

For technicians in training, AR provides an advanced method of education by combining multiple learning styles to help them understand and process the information. Training exercises in AR are extremely visual and incorporate auditory elements. Using the technology, the process is automated and would ensure that all technicians in the dealership receive the same standard of training.

Interest in AR in the North American automotive industry continues to grow. As dealers implement the technology and see its benefits, its prevalence will continue to spread and become more familiar.

Rob Butz is director of business development for the technical information services at Bosch Automotive Solutions. Contact him at [email protected].

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