After sales digitalisation through augmented reality in automotive industry

by Itika Singhal

Augmented reality holds the power to transform the automotive after-sales industry by improving the processes and enhancing the customer experience.

When we talk about automotive industry, the 3S are very important for any manufacturer or an auto dealer, them being – Sales, Service and Spares. Even though automotive after-sales industry which deals with service and spares is considered a secondary market, it is worth billions. A car being a luxury purchase, for any OEM it is important that their automotive dealer provides a good customer service in after-sales as it instills customers faith in the brand, builds reputation and also brings in repeat customers.

Like any other industry, automotive after-sales comes with its own challenges and in this article we shall share with you how immersive technologies like augmented reality can help in over-coming the challenges faced by the industry and also aid, enhance and speed up the digitalisation process.

Let’s first understand the parties involved and type of communication exchange that happen in the automotive after sales industry, first between the auto manufacturer and their dealers, second being between the dealer the customer. From the OEM to the dealer mostly there is knowledge transfer about the vehicle and its servicing, spare parts, inventory management etc. From dealer to end user it is all about quality & timeliness of servicing and customer experience. Augmented reality holds immense potential to enhance communication between these parties. Let us discuss a few AR applications and examples in automotive after-sales.

  1. The major challenge any OEM faces is knowledge transfer to its dealers. Any country like India which is vastly diverse in its geography, language and culture, it becomes difficult to train the technicians. With the use of dedicated AR softwares and AR glasses, the technicians can have guided knowledge transfer and training which they can access at their own speed at any language they wish to. This guidance can be accessed anytime without going back to the trainer and helps build a better understanding of the car. 
  2. A technician with the help of his AR glasses will able to overlay a blueprint of the inside of the car over the car itself which will guide him on what part goes where, what is the issue and what needs fixing. This not only leads to much more efficient servicing with less scope of error but also saves time. 
  3. Augmented reality will also come to the aid of the car owners to know that the spare parts fitted in their vehicle are actually original and not copy. Consider the possibility of just scanning a spare part with your AR glass and knowing whether it is authentic. Augmented reality will enable an average end user to have access to the much more understanding about internal workings of his car than ever before.
  4. Augmented reality will help inventory management to a great extent. Spare part that needs to be changed in the vehicle, just with one touch the technician will be able to check the availability of the part and through ID based inventory management, also know where it is stocked! He will be able to scan the shelf and know all the information needed in his field of vision. He will also be able to place orders right through the AR application with a single touch
  5. Customer servicing with augmented reality also increases manifolds. Imagine car drives in the service centre and with just by scanning say it’s RFID tag, the entire history of the vehicle is in the attendants field of vision. He would know all the data points example, owner’s information, demographics, purchase and servicing history, vehicle conditions, mileage, fuel consumption. The car dealer can design maintenance schedules and send timely notifications to the end user and those will be visible in his field of vision allowing for timely servicing. 
  6. Accessory parts in after-sales industry are for the convenience of the vehicle owner.  The most common example of accessory which people get fitted is a GPS navigation system. What better example that augmented reality navigation systems with help of which the driver will be able to see the routes and markers of important places wight in his field of vision without going back and forth to consult a map on his GPS. It will be right their on his windscreen.
  7. A lot of customers who would like to fix small car issues themselves, DIY augmented reality virtual assistant will replace the printed service manuals. The car owners themselves will be able to diagnose issues and fix them. Augmented reality will also enable remote servicing of vehicles. The user will be able to transfer the view of the vehicle to the technician and they will be able to guide during minor or emergency issues.
  8. Augmented reality can help provide real time feedback to the engineering and design team. Every user is unique and the plethora of information the dealers have about the customers, products, usage of products can be valuable to the product design team and allow for continuous improvements.

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