Digital Services and New Digital-First Customer Experiences

As we continue our serialisation of this excellent white paper published by Care AR and IDC we explore how manufacturers and service organizations need to manage various priorities to ensure they can survive, thrive, and excel in a competitive environment where customer expectations continue to rise.


Manufacturers and service organizations are racing to digitally transform their business operations to deliver a new experience to customers, enhancing both the brand and the engagement model.


Competition has forced manufacturers and service organizations to rethink how they strengthen bonds with customers, which wasn’t historically necessary as they owned the customer life cycle. In IDC’sNovember 2020 COVID-19 Impact on IT Spending Survey, nearly half of manufacturers said they prioritize creating new digital products and services and now look to deliver digital-first customer experiences —46.2% and 31.9%, respectively (see Figure 2).



As manufacturers and service organizations shift their business and customer engagement models, they must address a few areas to truly bring together the service experience and the customer experience:


Establish the knowledge capabilities to address reactive, proactive, and self-service needs.


No one model will be in place in all situations, and organizations will need to be nimble to adjust to the need efficiently.


Deliver support and resolution for both simple and complex work with a diverse workforce with various degrees of expertise.


Customers want a resolution to ensure that their operation or experience is not negatively impacted by downtime. To provide this level of service, organizations need to solve problems of varying complexity. What has changed is this level of response needs to happen on the first visit because extended downtime due to a lack of expertise to solve a problem is unacceptable.


Harness the convergence of the customer experience with the service and support experiences, strengthening the partnership with customers.


Data must flow across the organization, and manufacturers are beginning to understand they need to make data accessible across functional teams to offer an integrated customer experience. Customer centricity has shifted the focus of manufacturers to prioritize the needs of the customer and the service employee, providing them with the visibility to go beyond standard engagements to deliver “wow” experiences. Meeting service-level agreements (SLAs) is table stakes; organizations need to go beyond the standard contract to connect the service experience with other activities such as sales, marketing, and product improvements.


Leverage innovative technologies such as augmented reality (AR) to drive innovation and an enhanced customer experience.


The pandemic helped drive a rapid shift where AR moved from being a cool future technology to a technology that’s delivering tangible value around remote service, remote collaboration between a service worker and a customer, and self-service experiences with technical support. Nearly three-fourths (72.2%) of manufacturers in IDC’s May 2021 Product and Service Innovation Survey pointed to AR as important or very important to their current efforts around service innovation.


AR technology has evolved dramatically over the past few years. The pandemic drove a big part of that evolution, as companies adapted to an ever-evolving set of circumstances on the ground. In a 2021 survey of AR adopters, IDC found that the top 3 benefits the technology brought to their businesses were increased worker efficiency, improved real-time collaboration, and improved knowledge transfer between expert and novice workers.


In the next feature in this series, we will be taking a closer look at the benefits of adopting AR technology.


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