The reality of virtual reality for customer experienceby
Since humans first started trading with each other, sellers have been competing for the attention, business, and loyalty of customers. But things are changing, and now it isn't just products or services that have value but the transactional experience itself.
According to a report by Gartner, “by 2026, basic buying and selling experiences will be commoditized, and businesses will differentiate based on connected customer and employee experiences.”
Any business that doesn’t yet understand that it is now in the experiences business, will struggle to compete if it doesn’t keep up with customer experience (CX) expectations.
Beyond digital channels
CX is evolving. Driven by the behaviours of younger generations, it is likely that the average customer service experience will soon exceed phone and even digital channels like chat and text. Some of the building blocks for a new CX experience already exist: Virtual reality (VR) headsets have been around for a decade, and hundreds of millions of people use augmented reality (AR) filters on social media every day. With ever more VR equipment falling into consumers' hands every year, it seems a natural step to ask if VR can be leveraged to provide a one-of-a-kind customer experience for a brand.
But what’s the reality behind using VR in the contact centre to provide these customer experiences? What’s achievable today and what approach will best support success?
What’s happening today
The dictionary definition of the adjective “im·mer·sive” is: (of a computer display or system) generating a three-dimensional image which appears to surround the user. Many leading retail brands have already embraced VR to create a more immersive experience and drive conversions. For example, IKEA has created a VR kitchen experience to let potential customers explore designs and fixtures to help them make their final purchasing decision.
Using apps like Cardboard, VR can easily act as an extension of video. Brands could simply post out cardboard VR glasses along with instructions and a QR code. Potential customers could then enjoy an immersive experience such as a tour or product demo as well as interact with the contact centre by activating a ‘call agent’ button. The agent, of course, can be located anywhere and in this way, immersive VR experiences allow remote employees to collaborate with colleagues in the same space and feel less isolated and more productive.
VR in the contact centre is more powerful than chatbots or 2D AI-avatars because it allows customers to ‘meet’ customer service representatives and receive a more personalised experience.
VR in the contact centre is more powerful than chatbots or 2D AI-avatars because it allows customers to ‘meet’ customer service representatives and receive a more personalised experience. This closer interaction, which can include helping customers examine products before they buy – even sitting inside a car – may help reduce the number of products being returned to stores, which is a major expense for brands.
According to analyst firm IDC, 45% of global brands plan to adopt web 3.0. technologies like AI and Machine Learning to create new immersive experiences. One thing is for certain, an immersive experience in the contact centre will have to focus on Total Experience – the interconnection of CX, multi experience (MX), employee experience (EX), and user experience (UX). This matters because an uplift in CX is a result of considering the entire customer and employee experience end-to-end, which requires building strategy, technology capability, and innovation frameworks holistically.
It takes a platform
Today’s consumers recognise that their time and attention have significant value to businesses, which has given them the feeling that they can take action – that they have new agency – and they are choosing to self-segment. AI technology has completely blown up the previous framework of the business-to-consumer supply chain and has amplified consumer control to the point that the consumer is now part of the production as they create and enjoy their own experiences.
Today’s consumers recognise that their time and attention have significant value to businesses.
They also now expect every business product and service to adapt to meet their unique needs in terms of context, intent, and communications devices and modalities. Business experiences can no longer be challenging, boring, and unappealing. They must be effortless, exciting, and rewarding — to the point that customers see sufficient value in trading their personal information to drive an even better business experience.
Integrating business value into the daily lives of employees and customers requires having the ability to address very granular use cases. Look for a technology provider that takes an open platform approach allowing API integration. This enables brands to tailor for extremely granular use cases, which is what is needed to create and deliver the experiences that today’s employees and customers expect.
Jonathan Maher, Sales Specialists Leader UKI, Avaya
Jonathan Maher leads the Sales Specialist teams at Avaya. He is responsible for driving Cloud and Digital transformation technologies to enhance and optimise organisations’ Employee & Customer Experience. Jonathan has over 20 years of IT industry experience in a...