There’s been quite a bit of hype about the metaverse—it’s the next big thing, it will transform how companies engage with customers, it will change the way we do business. At its most basic, the metaverse simply integrates the physical and digital worlds, enhancing both through virtual worlds or simple contextual overlays on our real one. While companies currently interact with customers via multiple channels – mobile devices, desktop computers, email, social media and chatbots – the advantage of the metaverse is that companies are now able to create immersive and interactive experiences for customers, which potentially makes the metaverse a game changer.
What those advanced interactive features will look like is still under development. What we do know, according to IDC analyst Ramon Llamas, is that they’ll be available across devices. “That includes via VR/AR glasses, smartphones, tablets and PCs, chat rooms with video, but also probably via up-and-coming things like holograms, digital signage, digital assets, and digital content.”
The metaverse creates compelling opportunities for the hospitality industry to engage with customers. For example, a hotel chain or travel agency could preview a vacation spot for a customer by showing the destination using 3D imagery. Yet it’s important to realize that we’re in the early stages of this new world with much of its potential still to come. While much remains unknown, it is clear that in order to reap the benefits that the metaverse offers and to strengthen the relationship that companies have with their customers, focusing on these three primary areas when building strategies to prepare for its utilization.
Create superior customer experiences
The metaverse promises businesses many new opportunities to expand their existing customer channels via VR/AR, virtual worlds, holograms, digital assets and content, and more. Creating new channels to connect with customers – channels that promote two-way engagement – is critical. For example, in the cruise industry, a company could integrate 3D games on its ships and even provide additional virtual and augmented reality services designed to make it easier for passengers to connect with other guests. Virtual spaces could allow customers to examine how rooms are designed or what amenities are available on the ship.
Companies that are building strategies that leverage the metaverse should think outside the box to stretch the boundaries of conventional thinking about customer engagement and to create better customer experiences (CX). As David Truog, a Forrester Research principal analyst points out, “The world is a 3D place — or 4D if you include time. It’s not a 2D experience, and in fact, 2D experiences feel kind of artificial. There are many experiences that benefit from three-dimensionality, from touching and manipulation, where the metaverse will be appropriate.”
Develop personalized, immersive experiences
Customers appreciate a wide range of channels for interacting with businesses, and they increasingly expect these to be personalized and immersive. For companies to engage customers where they live and spend time, new strategies must be considered in order to increase revenue.
For example, our client, Givenchy Parfums, the fashion and cosmetics company, wanted to find a way to increase customer engagement. They joined with Nintendo to allow customers to build their own avatars using virtual makeup. By allowing users to assume the same avatar, wear the same virtual lipstick, and occupy the same digital property in multiple brands’ proprietary platforms, they were able to engage customers in a unique way.
Focus on building trust
While most people would say that the advances in digital technologies and the growth of the internet have changed our world for the better, there are still many dark corners of the digital universe that concern consumers. To overcome safety and privacy issues, companies must first tackle security and identity management challenges in order to build trust into their metaverse interactions. In fact, a 2021 report found that more than half (52 percent) of adult social media users consider a platform’s privacy and data policies an “extremely impactful” part of the decision to interact with ads or sponsored content.
Building the level of trust needed to secure customer loyalty requires technical expertise in encryption, identity management, access management, and the capability to communicate these policies and practices to customers. Doing so will go a long way toward gaining trust, leading to increased engagement.
What the future holds
While projections about the metaverse predict unlimited opportunities and customer engagement, much is yet unknown. Now is the time for companies to invest resources in the metaverse to find, develop, and at times discard the most engaging or unworkable customer environments. Expanding the boundaries of creativity and being willing to fail will only lead us to a more promising, digitally-enhanced future.
About the author
Sidharth Mukherjee is the Chief Digital Officer at Teleperformance.