Embracing CX in the metaverse

Embracing CX in the metaverse
Here’s an experiment: Imagine that you’re shopping for sneakers in a few years. You receive a notification on your mobile from your favorite retailer that a pair of shoes you’ve been looking at is on sale. You quickly grab your VR glasses and walk into a virtual representation of the store where you can design your shoes. An AI avatar joins your jog through a virtual community that looks exactly like yours and answers any questions. After removing the glasses, you consider the purchase and finally click “buy” while browsing on your computer. They fit perfectly when you pick them up at the mall. Even better, your avatar will be getting the exact same pair. This scenario shows an omnichannel customer experience (CX) that seamlessly integrates multiple digital and physical retail channels. Customer interactions are done via mobile, desktop and email. Artificially intelligent chatbots, social media messaging, and other channels are all available. But in the metaverse, customer touchpoints can be more immersive and connected.

” The metaverse will be available in a variety of ways, including VR/AR glasses, smartphones and tablets, chat rooms with videos, chat rooms with audio, but also via new technologies like holograms and digital signage. Ramon Llamas is the research director for IDC’s augmented reality/virtual realities (AR/VR).

There has been a lot of talk lately about companies “migrating to the metaverse”, but this is a bit misleading. The metaverse is not a place where brands are moving, but rather they are expanding into it and connecting with their two-dimensional channels. The potential for the metaverse’s transformation of how brands and customers interact with each other cannot be understated. Over the next decade, the metaverse will transform CX in the same way e-commerce shook up retail in the 1990s and mobile reimagined social interactions in the early 2000s.

“The metaverse is a completely new virtual world–just like social media presented a new CX channel 15 years ago,” says Sidharth Mukherjee, chief digital officer at Teleperformance, a global company that provides digitally integrated business services. “We are starting to see metaverse adoption in industries such as retail, health care, and consumer goods.

The evolution of customer experience

Right now, omnichannel CX is more than a “nice to have”–it adds tangible value to businesses’ bottom lines. According to the “2021 State of the Connected Consumer Report” by Salesforce, 76% of customers want to use different channels to interact with brands based on the context of their needs or queries. The International Institute for Management Development reports that retailers lose between 10% and 30% of sales if they fail to offer a sufficiently robust omnichannel shopping experience.

Omnichannel is also a growing trend in marketing. Although it is distinct from CX, it has significant overlap with CX. In an analysis of more than 135,000 campaigns, automation software company Omnisend found that companies employing three or more channels for marketing achieved a 494% higher order rate than those relying upon just one.

The metaverse has the potential to address operational problems and offer more ways to reach customers. “The world is 3D, or 4D, if you add time. It’s not a 2D world, and 2D experiences feel artificial.” David Truog, vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, says that it’s not a 2D experience. “There are many experiences that benefit from three-dimensionality, from touching and manipulation, where the metaverse will be appropriate.”

Graphic Consumers want to interact with brands in the metaverse

Take employee recruiting and training. Remote work, a shift accelerated by the covid-19 pandemic, seems likely to stick around for the long term–according to a Gallup survey, nine out of 10 employees want to keep working remotely in some capacity post-pandemic. The metaverse could be a great place to recruit and train geographically dispersed employees and host company-wide events and team-building activities.

There are equally intriguing use cases for the metaverse in the context of CX. A travel agency could show off exotic destinations through 3D “vacation previews”. Customers looking to buy a new car could “build” the vehicle of their dreams and take it for a spin on a virtual version of Route 66 or the Autobahn. Retailers could display a more extensive catalog of products than is feasible in the real world– an electronics store might be able to house 100 devices in a physical showroom, but a virtual one could contain hundreds of thousands.

There may be opportunities to offer better customer support in the metaverse. Mukherjee explains that CX avatars could be available at the click of a button to help customers find products in virtual malls, or resolve questions from customers who walk into virtual banks. Or a company could help clients troubleshoot problems with their dishwasher using AR.

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This content was produced by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the editorial staff of MIT Technology Review.

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