A new space is emerging for customer engagement and interactions beyond online and in-store to be considered.
This is the metaverse, a futuristic concept for many, but one that is taking shape, with a great deal of potential to be the next big thing. Gartner predicts that, by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social and/or entertainment, while Bloomberg posts that the global metaverse revenue opportunity could approach $800 billion in 2024, compared to about $500 billion in 2020.
To back up for a minute, what is the metaverse? A vague but also fairly complex term, Wired author Eric Ravenscraft pointed out that the metaverse “doesn’t really refer to any one specific type of technology, but rather a broad (and often speculative) shift in how we interact with technology.” A seamless amalgamation of our physical and digital lives, the metaverse stands as a unified, virtual community where consumers can play, work, transact and socialize.
Just as the metaverse is (and will) shape consumers’ interactions with technology, allowing them to do cool new things like attend virtual concerts and browse luxury goods, the relationships between brands and their customers will also shift. For customer service leaders, it is a whole new world, where AI can play a key role in helping them successfully navigate the shift, keeping users engaged and fully immersed in the process.
CX 3.0: Customer Experience in the Metaverse
Why is a great customer experience (CX) so important, especially in the metaverse?
As brands start staking out their territory in these virtual worlds, there will be a new kind of customer support to coincide with this. As with any new and novel circumstance, questions inevitably arise. A report from JP Morgan pointed out that, in time, the virtual real estate market could start seeing services similar to those in the physical world, including credit, mortgages and rental agreements. Additionally, in the metaverse, there are opportunities for businesses to profoundly scale. Rather than having numerous store locations spread across cities, for instance, a major retailer may opt to build a global hub in the metaverse that is able to serve millions. With an enlarged customer base, the need for a strong customer experience strategy will become greater.
Evolving customer expectations, big time
We now know that good customer support is sought-after and highly regarded – 77% of U.S. consumers believe that good customer service is crucial to earning loyalty as well as business. Expectations have evolved with time, a recent survey from Netomi found that 65% say they have higher expectations for their customer service experience today than they did 3 to 5 years ago. Does this level of expectation extend to the metaverse? Only time will tell.
Support, delivered in real-time
In the world of gaming, offering in-app support is key to keeping users engaged and lowering the chance of churn or their attention shifting elsewhere (what avid gamer wants to exit mid-game to contact a support team, in the event that something goes awry?) For brands, offering support at the precise moment of relevance is the key to success, capturing both short-term attention and long-term loyalty. Because the metaverse is a highly immersive experience, complete with richer interactions than traditional gaming, support delivered in a timely manner is critical.
When it comes to shopping in the metaverse, for instance, newly imagined 3D spaces that are both detailed and interactive encourage shoppers to linger for longer periods of time than conventional websites or mobile apps. Imagine simply scrolling through an app versus ‘trying on’ designer dresses from the comfort of your own couch? With this level of intricacy and technological acumen, consumers will likely come to expect support experiences that are equally as modernized – that carry speed, efficiency, proactive and always-on care. As new and innovative experiences start taking shape, there is the potential for customer demand and engagement to rise.
In the metaverse, we foresee brands leveraging conversational AI in the form of chatbots and virtual assistants. Working alongside human agents to offer immediate resolutions to customer queries, such solutions empower companies to provide the support that customers have grown to expect – quick, convenient, and personalized.
Let’s take a look at some innovative examples of brands that are making waves in the metaverse, for the ultimate customer experience.
3 Innovative Examples of Customer Experience in the Metaverse
Lowe’s helps builders and customers visualize projects. In a move to help customers easily visualize their home improvement projects, home improvement retailer Lowe’s will equip builders of the metaverse with products from its real-world shelves, by making more than 500 3D product assets available for download, free of charge, via Lowe’s Open Builder, a new asset hub.
Sneakers, sports gear, and celebrity sightings. Since its launch in November 2021, Nikeland, the sporting goods brand’s metaverse constructed in Roblox, and based on its real-life headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, has attracted 6.7 million people from 224 countries. Visitors of Nikeland can socialize, purchase exclusive digital products to decorate their avatars with, and enjoy celebrity appearances from sports stars such as LeBron James.
3. Charlotte Tilbury
Immersive shopping experiences for beauty fans. As part of beauty brand Charlotte Tilbury’s ‘Pillow Talk Party Virtual Beauty Wonderland’, customers can explore and shop the company’s products, interact with virtual 3D experiences, and watch exclusive content such as behind-the-scenes interviews with beauty influencers. With the interactive “shop with friends” feature, beauty fans can shop together in real-time, by sharing a link to the virtual store via email or text, along with integrated video that allows those in the group to see and hear one another as they navigate the virtual environment, together or separately.
AI, Customer Service & the Metaverse: The Possibilities are Endless
Venturing into the metaverse will help brands to tell their stories in a unique way, engage with customers in real-time, and this new realm will likely lead to the emergence of new services and business models. Retail leaders will need to reimagine what a store really is, and with it, there is the opportunity to craft an equally immersive customer support experience in the metaverse to turn their customers into raving fans, in both the virtual and real-life worlds.