How will the customer experience be enhanced as more people explore the brave new world of the Metaverse with VR devices?
Without Virtual Reality (VR), the Metaverse is just another website, however, with new VR devices released daily, brands are optimistic that the oft-discussed Metaverse will begin to gain widespread adoption.
If and when that happens, will virtual reality be the catalyst for an exceptional customer experience?
Let’s see how VR can enhance and enhance customer journeys as they explore the brave new world of the metaverse as well as the challenges VR poses to brands.
What do CX consumers expect in the Metaverse?
According to a new report from Talkdesk, 51% of respondents expect customer service to be better in digital worlds, and 27% believe it will be easier to access product or brand information in the metaverse.
Additionally, 27% of respondents believe it will be more efficient and interactive to get help from an omnichannel metaverse avatar rather than engaging with an online chatbot, and 32% believe the metaverse will bring less frustration and anxiety than calling and talking to customer service. agent.
Consumers are already planning to use the metaverse in the near future. A 2022 report by Gartner research found that 25% of respondents will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse by 2026, working, shopping, going to school, participating in social activities and entertainment.
The report also states that by 2026, 30% of brands will have metaverse-ready products and services.
According to a 2022 NielsenIQ report, consumers also identified e-commerce as a top reason for potential engagement in the metaverse and said they were interested in browsing, buying, and selling goods. in a virtual market.
What does virtual reality bring to the table?
Virtual reality allows users to have a three-dimensional experience where they are immersed and interact with 3D worlds. Fully immersive virtual reality is the most realistic simulation experience and makes users feel like they are in a different world.
Although users know that they are using VR equipment to experience the alternate world, the mind is tricked so that it seems to actually happen. Using two identical images, virtual reality tricks the user’s brain into perceiving a sense of depth and accepting the illusion presented by the multi-dimensional image.
Because the rules of physics don’t apply to VR experiences, users can fly, walk underwater, teleport from place to place, jump on top of buildings, and do things that would be impossible in real life.
Navdeep Mundi, a professor at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, told CMSWire that the metaverse is developing enhanced use cases around games, entertainment, work collaboration, social media, virtual worlds, education and fitness as well as several industrial applications – and all of these applications will drive customer journeys and adoption using virtual reality.
“As brands move through the metaverse, we can expect unique customer experiences through immersive and shareable experiences to enhance overall omnichannel strategies in unique and meaningful ways,” said Professor Mundi.
“With one billion users projected by 2030, XR (extended reality) is quickly becoming a necessity in every brand’s roadmap,” she explained, adding that this will likely be more evident across brands in retail and entertainment – two verticals that will focus on realistic experiences and increase brand awareness and loyalty.
Related article: Augmented reality, experimentation, e-commerce and your customer base
How can brands use virtual reality in the metaverse?
A virtual environment offers brands the ability to create unique emotionally positive experiences that customers have probably never had. Professor Mundi said there are three ways to use virtual reality to radically improve the customer journey:
Engage brand customers: To provide customers with a unique experience and allow users to traverse alternate worlds, transcending physical and temporal spaces and boundaries. Customers will be able to shop in virtual stores and get 360-degree views and personalized options that cannot be replicated in a physical location or be exclusive to the Metaverse.
Maintaining emotional connections with customers: Immersive virtual reality technology will enable brands to educate and delight customers by creating a wide range of immersive content in customer experiences, which will help improve the overall experience and build brand loyalty.
Interactive customer support: VR technology will be able to provide real-time support throughout the customer journey. Experiences such as product instructions, virtual try-ons and showrooms, and personalized suggestions will quickly and efficiently enhance a seamless customer experience and simplify the buying process.
“VR technology has the potential to enable effective data capture, evaluation and analysis, monitoring and control, and support decision-making throughout the customer journey,” Mundi said.
“This data aggregation will be quick and convenient for customers before, during and after purchase,” she said, adding that it is also likely to revolutionize product testing, imagination of use products as well as the overall consumer experience of customers.
Anastasiia Gliebova, CEO and co-founder of V-Art, a virtual reality digital content and service licensing service, told CMSWire that virtual reality will help the metaverse grow and create highly engaging customer experiences. Gliebova said VR will also help brands “adapt faster to digital worlds which can offer a more cost effective and faster way to create and run virtual events like fashion shows, gallery openings art collections, game contests, comedy shows – and much more. ”
She said virtual reality also allows brands to more fully track and measure the customer experience journey, including customer feedback on products.
Related article: Is it really time for customer experience professionals to explore the metaverse?
The Challenges Brands Face with Virtual Reality
There are challenges for brands looking to enter the VR metaverse. Virtual reality comes with a high cost of entry for brands and consumers.
Cheaper VR headsets are typically limited in functionality or used in conjunction with high-end PCs, and high-end standalone VR headsets that allow for “full immersion” are still prohibitively expensive for many consumers.
Prices as of September 2022 for VR headsets vary by retailer, but can generally be found at the following prices:
Oculus Quest 2: $599
Meta Quest 2: $399
HP Reverb G2: $399
Sony Playstation VR: $349
VR valve index: $999
HTC Vive Pro 2: $1295
Apple VR/AR: $2000 – $2500 (projected cost)
For brands seeking to create virtual reality experiences for consumers in the metaverse, the costs typically involve the purchase of virtual real estate, as well as the creation of virtual buildings, digital twins, and investment in the virtual economy of the metaverse, such as creating direct-to-avatar (D2A) goods, events, etc.
Another problem is that the majority of current metaverse worlds do not support virtual reality. The Sandbox, which is a popular virtual world, does not support VR and has no immediate plans to do so, nor does Decentraland, another popular metaverse world.
Very few, like Somnium Space and Meta’s Horizon Worlds, actually support VR, however, for VR to transform the Metaverse, those virtual worlds that support VR must also support multiple VR headsets. Horizon Worlds, for example, only supports Oculus headsets.
Low customer adoption also continues to be a challenge. According to a 2022 Insider Intelligence report, 66.8 million people used virtual reality at least once a month in the United States and is expected to reach over 75 million users by 2025.
When you compare that to the number of monthly active social media users in the US in 2022 (270 million according to The Global Statistics), it’s easy to see that virtual reality still has a long way to go before the majority of the population does not use it — if ever.
Additionally, there is still a lack of compelling VR/metavert apps available to consumers, especially for people who don’t like games. For gamers, there are virtual worlds such as The Sandbox, Roblox, NVIDIA Omniverse, and Decentraland, but for a generation that grew up with gaming consoles and high-end graphics, these virtual worlds feel pretty retro, reminiscent of graphics 90s games. worlds.
5G may be the technology that will remove this limitation, but for now the majority of VR applications, including metaverse worlds, are non-mobile.
Takeaway: Virtual Reality Could Transform the Metaverse
Virtual reality has the potential to transform the metaverse from concept to mainstream adoption and change the way consumers interact with brands.
Using virtual reality, brands will be able to sell digital twins of their products as well as D2A products, host virtual events, and provide virtual sales and customer service agents to interact with customers in real time.
Although there are still many challenges in the VR metaverse, many brands believe the opportunities they provide are worth investing in today.