Picture this: instead of logging onto your website or starting an online chat, a customer creates an avatar that “walks” into your business’ virtual storefront. Once inside, he explores products through 3D demos, get his questions answered in real time by an employee’s avatar, and checks out additional products and services you offer.
Even better: imagine that same customer walks into your immersive storefront and sees only items you know he’s likely to buy. The virtual racks have only clothing in his size, or the shelves are lined with equipment for only the sports he plays. He buys a virtual outfit or tennis racket for his avatar and decides to purchase the same outfit or racket for himself – which then ships to his home in real life.
These types of immersive customer experiences may seem futuristic, but they’re closer than you think. Cutting-edge brands like Nike, Gucci, and Disney are already delivering them.
Earlier this year, Miller Lite let fans enjoy a football Sunday in the metaverse. At the Meta Lite Bar, in the virtual realm Decentraland, visitors participated in a fully immersive experience – enjoying virtual beers, playing darts and billiards, choosing songs on a jukebox, and taking selfies in a photobooth. Meta Lite Bar visitors could see Miller Lite’s new “Big Game” ad, which wasn’t shown anywhere else, and enter a sweepstakes to have one of their real-life football celebrations paid for by the beer company.
Experiences like these will become the CX norm within the next five years, and the line between reality and the virtual world will blend more and more.
It’s time for brands to get ready for immersive CX, or risk being left behind.
A channel of opportunity
CX keeps evolving as technology does. If Web 1.0 was the advent of brand websites, and Web 2.0 let brands engage with customers through social media, we’re now quickly entering Web 3.0 – a new level of experience that blends the actual and virtual, where customers can create their own immersive space in the metaverse where everything they want is at their fingertips.
The shift to Web 3.0 has been underway for a while, but the pandemic accelerated it. Two years after transitioning largely to Zoom meetings and virtual events, many of us are much more comfortable interacting in the virtual realm than we used to be. In Web 3.0, the real and virtual worlds will continue to blend, making immersive experiences vital to CX success.
Immersive CX represents a huge channel of opportunity for brands. So many industries can benefit from offering immersive experiences: education, healthcare, retail, financial services – and almost all work environments.
In some cases, consumers will be drawn to the metaverse for the sense of anonymity it brings. Imagine being able to receive mental health services, or discuss an embarrassing medical ailment, via an avatar without having to reveal your identity if you don’t want to.
For many, a main draw will be how the metaverse brings people together. Consumers could be able to take a yoga class, then visit some of their favorite stores and grab lunch with friends – no matter where they are in the world – via avatars. Millions of music fans can attend a virtual concert and feel as if they’re physically there, in a full stadium, without ever leaving their homes.
Immersive experiences pose endless possibilities.
There’s no denying the metaverse will connect all of us in new and exciting ways, so why not be a part of it from the beginning? Brands need to start planning now if they want to hit the ground running and thrive in this next era of CX. For those that truly want to stand out from competitors, immersive experiences will quickly move from nice-to-haves to must-haves.
This is a shift that brands need to prepare for, and quickly. The metaverse is still evolving, but it will do so at a much faster pace than Web 1.0 and 2.0 evolved. Smart brands are prepping for this next phase now so they can harness its power to bring amazing experiences to customers.
Focus on data now for future success
When it comes to delivering customized experiences, data is crucial. In the previous example where a customer “walks” into a virtual store and sees only clothes and items he’s likely to buy, there’s a lot of data powering that experience. His buying history, his clothing size, his interests, his likes and dislikes – that brand knows a lot about that customer.
But it’s not enough just to have a lot of data; knowing how to refine it is essential. Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools can sort data and distill it down to what really matters, zeroing in on customers’ individual preferences to give them the best experience possible.
Machine learning and AI also can help brands predict a customer’s next move, question, or purchase. With this knowledge in hand, an associate’s avatar in a brand’s virtual storefront can have all the information it needs to answer questions a customer is likely to ask – or point him to additional products of interest, thereby increasing sales.
With the power of AI and data working behind the scenes, brands can create highly customized customer journeys in the immersive space. That’s what creates the magic: the bespoke, personal experiences that will keep customers coming back.
Of course, technology isn’t the only key to providing immersive experiences; people remain essential to CX success in the metaverse. It’s real people, with real expertise and empathy, powering the avatars with which customers interact. And in some instances, an avatar may not be able to fully assist a customer, necessitating a hand-off to an associate in another channel.
These immersive experiences are so much richer and better than communicating through more traditional channels like chat or SMS. And, beyond that, they’re just plain innovative and cool – something customers will want to tell their friends and families about. That’s what brands want: to deliver cutting-edge CX that gets customer talking and, ultimately, buying.
An experienced partner can help
Entering this new world can seem intimidating. That’s why working with an experienced partner can help. At TTEC, we’ve been helping clients create omnichannel customer experiences for decades. Immersive CX is the natural extension of that work.
Speed will be an important factor when it comes to immersive CX. Once the metaverse achieves widespread adoption, brands will have to quickly deploy immersive experiences, or risk losing customers to brands that do. At TTEC, we know how to help companies deliver seamless experiences in an efficient and scalable way.
But immersive CX isn’t merely a project to launch quickly and then forget about or set on autopilot. It’s an ongoing journey. Brands need the right partner who deeply understands the nuances of the customer journey. We’re here to help develop a roadmap to the future, figure out the best way to get there, and determine how to build on what brands already have working in their favor. To succeed, companies will need to continually assess what’s working and what’s not, and make adjustments to optimize outcomes.
At TTEC, we are developing our own immersive experience for associates. If associates have a virtual space where they can come together to ask questions, collaborate, and learn for each other, they’ll have a more supportive work environment and be empowered to perform their jobs better.
Since improved employee experience leads to better customer experience, we expect immersive associate experiences to bolster not only EX but also CX. But perhaps more importantly, it provides a great springboard from which brands can delve more deeply into the immersive realm.
Once brands unlock the potential of immersive experiences among their employees, and the benefits – in terms of engagement, EX, CX, and bottom-line results – they’ll be eager to extend that type of experience to their customers as well.