How to amplify the customer relationship in the metaverse

The metaverse is the new immersive and experiential Internet where we will take our digital avatars to work, learn and play in persistent environments. Whether you think we’re headed to the Ready Player One levels of immersion or that it’s just a lot of hot air and hype, the fact is that companies are investing money and resources to take their place in this new digital world. And one of the biggest reasons they do it is the opportunities it provides to connect and engage with customers in a whole range of new ways.

Metaverse environments will allow us to talk and interact with brands and each other, either through our avatars or by connecting directly to video chat portals and voice chat. The truth is, no one knows exactly what will become of the defining ways we use the metaverse, whatever form it ultimately takes. Some – like Facebook (so excited about the concept that it rebranded its $100 billion+ business as Meta) are confident it will involve virtual reality (VR) and headsets. Others – like those behind emerging metaverse platforms like Sandbox – say that while virtual reality will play a role, it won’t be an essential part of the experience. For them, the decentralized, user-owned aspect of the metaverse will be much more integral to the experience than the hardware we use to access it.

So, taking into account both visions – and everything in between – here’s a look at some of the exciting implications of this hot tech trend for how businesses will interact with and serve their customers in the near future. coming.

The pandemic and the virtual leap

The global Covid-19 pandemic has upended our lives in many ways, but none as drastically as the acceleration of the digital shift. Before the epidemic, we were increasingly choosing to shop, socialize, work and play in online environments. After it hit, it became less of a choice and more of a necessity for many – dramatically accelerating the pace at which companies chose to move their services online.

Many businesses that found they weren’t set up to meet their customers’ needs through digital channels struggled, while those that had invested in social media, video chat, online customer service and emerging technologies such as AI chatbots flourished.

It is these customer-oriented technology trends that are being touted as fundamental to what the metaverse will become. Companies jumping into the metaverse — entertainment brands like disney to financial services giants like JPMorgan Chase – rely on customers who are increasingly satisfied with the service they can provide through these channels. As investment increases, we can expect these offerings to evolve to take full advantage of the convenience and immediacy that digital interactions provide.

More immersive and engaging interactions

The fact that we now appreciate positive and effective customer experiences higher than the traditional factors we used to judge companies on, like price or product quality, is key to understanding the value of the metaverse for customer service. The idea of ​​the metaverse is that interactions between users – customers, in this case – and the brands we want to spend money with will be more immersive and engaging. When avatars connect with each other – as in the Horizon virtual worlds of Meta (Facebook) – it is possible to observe and measure body language in new ways. This can include hand gestures, facial expressions, and brand new visual language that will no doubt emerge to cope with metaverse social interaction – just as emojis have become a big part of text-based conversations. Three-dimensional metaverse spaces give users a sense of place and being that goes beyond what they are used to experiencing in “traditional” virtual and online spaces.

It doesn’t take much to imagine that businesses and brands will learn to observe, measure, capture and analyze these details for clues as to how they can most effectively engage with us. Think about it as social sentiment analysis has grown to eleven – communication in the metaverse can take any form, from text to voice to video to synthetic content like avatars or video computer generated. Companies and organizations that make the most of the multi-trillion dollar opportunity the metaverse is supposed to offer will develop omnichannel approaches to extract insights from all this information and use it to make decisions focused on the customer experience.

Automated customer interactions

As AI improves, self-service channels are an increasingly efficient and, therefore, attractive option, rather than having to sit in a seemingly endless waiting pattern while that we are trying to reach a human representative. As companies get better at serving customers in this way, they of course collect more and more data on how to do it effectively, which leads to increasingly accurate automated customer service. – that’s the plan, anyway.

AI, in this sense, can encompass computer vision and natural language processing technology – which monitors and learns from our metaverse presence (avatar or otherwise) in order to determine what our problems are and how the business or brand may be able to help. Chatbots will evolve from the text boxes we are used to now, with their somewhat hit-or-miss level of success in understanding our questions and finding the most appropriate answers. As deep learning algorithms improve, the number of occasions requiring them to call upon a human agent to take over the conversation should decrease. A research piece found that between 2017 and 2019, the percentage of chats able to handle end-to-end customer queries increased from 20% to almost 70%. This technology will no doubt be deployed by brands as they move through the metaverse space and offer customers faster and more convenient routes to solve their problems.

In the metaverse, brands deploy digital 3D assistants to act as virtual tour guides, personal shoppers, troubleshooters, consultants, or whatever role their human agents may play in the real world. And increasingly, they will be able to perform these functions either manually, with human-controlled avatars and one-on-one communications, or automated through AI agents.

Brand Ambassadors

Brands are used to using influencers to promote and showcase their products and services on social media. As the Metaverse becomes more popular, it’s likely they’ll adopt similar strategies in these more immersive and interactive environments. Brands like Nike and Gucci are already creating digital products designed to allow us to dress our avatars in virtual worlds. Just like in the real world, we can expect them to create limited edition versions to distribute to the most popular avatars with the biggest audience. This will undoubtedly have an impact on the world of e-sport – competitive online gaming tournaments that will be held in the metaverse – as well as art, fashion and related to music events that will also find their place there.

To stay up to date with the latest trends on the metaverse and broader business and technology trends, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter and take a look at my new book Extended reality in practicewhich has just won the Business Book of the Year 2022 in the Specialist Book category.

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Joseph P. Harris