If the metaverse is not yet the announced revolution, it could well disrupt the entire customer relationship chain in the years to come…
On the day of a match, soccer clubs normally sell tickets to about 40,000 people and these fans usually spend a few hours in the stadium and eventually buy a shirt in the souvenir store.
Now imagine 800,000 other people watching the same game, but in 3D in the virtual world.
What experience could and should the club provide to these people? How should it interact with them? And not just for the duration of the game, but continuously, if they want to spend more time there?
The advent of the metaverse is beginning to raise these kinds of questions in corporate boards around the world.
The concept of the metaverse has dominated the technology and business landscape this year – computing devices can now connect people, via virtual reality headsets or even just via their browsers, to a digital space of real-time virtual experiences that users actually want to interact with.
Although still in the experimental stage, use cases from brands and professionals are now adding to the use cases from the gaming and entertainment sector. Brands such as H&M, Heineken and BMW have each recently launched projects in this area.
It won’t be long before commerce takes hold and brings with it a whole new and exciting world of brand experiences and buying and selling methods as companies seek to connect with consumers in a completely new paradigm.
Through the creation of 3D models, travel agencies can present hotels, tourist sites and transportation in digital high quality.
This can make the vacation planning and buying experience much easier, avoiding the need to spend hours reading endless Internet reviews to see if places are worth visiting before booking.
Similarly, the real estate industry may soon offer 3D guided tours of properties, eliminating the need to travel for endless in-person visits.
For these new customer experiences to be more than just a passing fad, it will be equally important for brands to think about the customer service strategy that will support them.
But where to start?
Here are some areas you might want to think about.
How do you best integrate your customer service agents with the metaverse?
The metaverse is all about immersion – once you’re in it, you don’t want to have to exit the platform and go back to traditional support channels, like email, if you run into an issue.
As more and more of us meet in the metaverse, customer support will become increasingly essential to delivering a positive experience.
We’ve already seen this in gaming, where chat devices allow you to get help from the platform.
Conversational service – with agents in the form of avatars – will be essential to effectively resolve issues without having to leave the experience space.
Brands should consider how they view the metaverse as a new support channel where agents or even help articles could “pop up” in our view.
If done right, early adopters who are already exploring virtual worlds will soon be converted into brand ambassadors.
How is the integration of the metaverse into customer service changing the buying process?
The metaverse may well change the way we buy certain products and services in the future.
It could create inventory-free experiences to virtually try a product before buying it and empower consumers, especially in price comparison.
When buying a car, for example, it could allow shoppers to visit a single dealership to see multiple brands and virtually explore, shortlist and pre-configure the cars they are interested in.
But what should a company’s customer service look like when products are sold through a third-party distributor? How do you make sure you’re getting your service in place at the right time, if a buyer needs more information?
It’s by thinking about these questions, as well as the potential impact on how goods are purchased in the real world, that we can ensure that service in the metaverse is set up the right way from the start.
How will we find the brands we don’t already know about?
Virtual worlds will create a new way for consumers to search for goods and understand how products work – much like Amazon’s Alexa did several years ago.
This will change the way we connect to brands, but it will also allow us to bypass a brand through a third party – just as we can do with Amazon on the web.
So retailers should study the digital revolutions that have already taken place in order to think intelligently about the next one.
Companies need to prioritize customer service as if their very growth depends on it.
Sooner or later, this will also include customer service in the metaverse.
We need to start planning for this now, especially since at this stage less than a third (30%) of European companies have included conversational customer service in their toolkit and only 40% are able to integrate customer service with other business channels.
In many ways, the arrival of the metaverse represents the next phase of digital transformation: it’s a new version of the Internet.
And as brands begin to wake up to this new online world, the worst thing they could do would be to do nothing, ignore it and not start thinking about a strategy, even if they’re not quite ready to take the plunge yet.
After all, we’ve seen what happened to brands like Kodak and Blockbuster who neglected previous digital steps forward.
It remains to be seen whether the metaverse will embody the same level of subversion, but there’s no doubt that it opens up a new world of opportunity that would be hard to ignore…