April 27, 2021

Right to Repair and AR Benefit Consumers, Companies

Man on smartphone to repair his television

A recent BCG survey revealed almost 95 percent of consumers believed their personal actions could help reduce unsustainable waste, tackle climate change and protect wildlife and biodiversity. Up to 30 percent noted their belief had strengthened during the COVID-19 crisis.

Now more than ever, people are considering how the products that they purchase are made, packaged and shipped, in addition to how well they are made, how long to keep them, what happens when they are no longer ours, etc. With sustainability in mind, a movement is underway to mitigate a throwaway culture, the idea of tossing out perfectly good items—such as fashion, plastics and appliances—simply because a newer one becomes available.

Residing concurrent to these movements is Right to Repair, a multifaceted campaign to give consumers and small businesses access to the parts, tools and service/technical information needed to repair products to keep them in use and reduce waste.

Movement Gains Traction

Right to Repair is gaining traction in the U.S. In our recent State of Augmented Reality in Customer Service survey of 1,000 consumers, 30 percent were aware of and supported the “Right to Repair” movement. This awareness exceeded our expectations.

The pandemic has also spurred on DIY enthusiasts and converts. In our survey, 71 percent of consumers assembled or repaired a household product by themselves in the past year. Yet, 27 percent disposed of a household appliance because it was inconvenient to fix it. Making support easier and more accessible can help to reduce this waste.

Similar research on homeowners from Hippo.com reveals that COVID-19 increased investments made inside and outside of the home. In the past year:

  • 54 percent have made improvements to their property since the start of the pandemic
  • 66 percent spent more than $1,000 on home repairs and/or improvements
  • The number of people who spent $10,000+ on home repairs and/or improvements doubled the previous average—from 5 to 10 percent
  • 52 percent said they’ve become more involved in taking care of their homes

It’s clear that many consumers are taking matters into their own hands, caring for their purchases both large and small and working to extend the use and life of their property.

Fight for Repair Rights

The Right to Repair, or “Fair Repair,” is also very much a political movement. Currently, 25 states are considering laws around right to repair in one shape or form. Depending on the state, legislation may center on farm equipment, automobiles, electronic manufacturers and other industries and makers.

The base argument for Right to Repair is technology parts in modern equipment has enabled manufacturers to restrict consumers’ access to repair by proclaiming that repair might violate their “Proprietary” rights. Limitations on repair have become a serious problem for all modern equipment that also limits how equipment can be traded on the used market.

Proponents of Right to Repair argue that retailers would not be affected by Right to Repair laws, as they apply only to manufacturers. Local repair and resale businesses would benefit from this legislation. Consumers benefit by ensuring their right to choose who, what, where, why, when, how and for how much their equipment is to be repaired.

Avenues for Repair

While we are talking rights to repair, let’s look at the overall avenues of repair available to consumers today. The big five are:

  • Mail: Consumers mail/ship the item away, and it could take weeks to receive a replacement or repaired model
  • Specialists: Consumers take the item to a certified specialist or store; depending on the size of the appliance, this can be difficult for the consumer and often requires an appointment
  • Technicians: Manufacturers send a technician into the consumer’s home to conduct a repair, which is often inconvenient, time-consuming, expensive and, especially in a pandemic, undesirable
  • Phone/assisted: Consumers may try to get assistance in a repair by phone, but limitations in consumer knowledge and specialist ability to interpret the problem without seeing it and direct the consumer can be frustrating and lengthy process
  • DIY: Consumers opt to repair or replace parts themselves, but this is often complex and may violate warranty and license agreements with manufacturers

The first four options are less convenient and appealing nowadays. Consumers have busy lives and want more options when it comes to their property and devices. As mentioned above, many also want to live more sustainably, taking care of their products to help them last longer and reduce items ending up in landfills.

However, there is a way to empower consumers and companies through assembly and repairs assistance, while benefiting everyone.

A New Repair Paradigm

Immersive, interactive support is available through Augmented Reality (AR). Solutions such as Teamwork AR™ with Agent Assist offer companies and consumers the opportunity to expand or transcend these avenues for repair and support.

Imagine that a customer calls in to address an issue with her high-end espresso machine. Traditionally, the agent can do some basic troubleshooting and try to talk the customer through complex steps by voice. With AR, however, the agent can connect to the customer through a safe, secure app on her smartphone or tablet. Using the device’s camera, the agent sees what the customer sees and lays out digital information with easy pointers to key knobs and parts, as well as instructions that walk a customer physically through the step-by-step repair.

With a little visual guidance, repairs, assembly and services become a snap. AR supports the consumer’s desire for more control over property and is a faster, safer and more cost-effective way to offer assistance:

  • Saves customer and company time and money
  • Reduces ‘no fault found’ returns/errors
  • Reduces product returns
  • Improves first-time fix rates
  • Reduces need for onsite technician visits/repeat visits
  • Improves customer experience and CSAT scores
  • Reduces waste and throwaway culture

Meet There Together

The Right to Repair movement is expected to continue growing. Between costs and eco-consciousness, consumers will want more visibility and control over their purchases and products. The idea of property and rights will be decided in public and private courts. But it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.

Using technology like AR, organizations can empower their consumers while creating new brand interactions and opportunities. Everyone involved can save time, resources and money on repairs and services, while also giving consumers greater confidence in your products. AR can navigate these waters, protecting innovation in manufacturing while building consumer trust.

For more insights on consumer expectations and comfort level with AR, you can view and download our infographic. Additionally, the Teamwork AR for Customer Support page has more information on our groundbreaking solution.


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