How will the customer experience be improved as more people explore the brave new metaverse using virtual reality devices?
Without virtual reality (VR), the metaverse is simply another website, however, with new VR hardware being launched daily, brands are optimistic that the often discussed metaverse will begin widespread adoption.
If and when it does, will VR be a catalyst for exceptional customer experience?
Let’s take a look at how virtual reality can enhance and improve customer journeys as they explore the brave new world of the metaverse as well as the challenges that VR poses for brands.
What do consumers expect from the Metaverse customer experience?
according to New report from Talkdesk51% of respondents expect customer service to be better in digital worlds, and 27% think it will be easier to access product or brand information in the metaverse.
Additionally, 27% of respondents think it would be more effective and interactive to get help from a multichannel avatar than dealing with an online chatbot, and 32% think the metaverse will save less frustration and anxiety than calling and talking to a customer service agent.
Consumers already have plans to use the metaverse in the near future. a 2022 Report Gartner research revealed that 25% of participants will spend at least one hour each day in the metaverse by 2026, working, shopping, going to school, participating in social activities and enjoying leisure.
The report also noted that by 2026, 30% of brands will have products and services ready for the metaverse.
According to 2022 NielsenIQ ReportConsumers also identified e-commerce as one of the main reasons for potential participation in the metaverse and said they are interested in browsing, buying and selling goods in a virtual marketplace.
What does virtual reality bring to the table?
Virtual reality allows users to have a 3D experience as they immerse themselves in and interact with 3D worlds. Fully immersive virtual reality is the most realistic simulation experience and allows users to feel like they are in a different world.
Even though users know that they are using virtual reality devices to experience the alternate world, the mind is fooled that it actually appears to be happening. Using two identical images, virtual reality tricks the user’s brain into perceiving a sense of depth and accepting the illusion offered by the multidimensional image.
Since the rules of physics do not apply to VR experiences, users can fly, walk underwater, teleport from one place to another, jump to the top of buildings, and otherwise do things that would be impossible in real life.
Navdeep MundiProfessor, University of Southern California Marshall Business Schoolhe told CMSWire that the metaverse is developing enhanced use cases around gaming, entertainment, work collaboration, social media, virtual worlds, education and fitness along with many industrial applications — all of which will drive and build customer journeys using virtual reality.
“As brands move to the downside, we can expect unique customer experiences through immersive and shareable experiences to enhance omnichannel strategies in unique and meaningful ways,” said Professor Mundy.
“With 1 billion users expected by 2030, XR (Extended Reality) is becoming a necessity in every brand’s roadmap,” she explained, adding that this is likely to be most visible across retail and entertainment brands – two segments that will focus on vibrant experiences. Life, brand awareness and loyalty.
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How can brands use virtual reality in the Metaverse?
The virtual environment for brands provides opportunities to create unique positive emotional experiences that customers are unlikely to ever get. Professor Mundy said there are three ways virtual reality can be used to radically improve the customer journey:
Engaging the brand’s customer base: Offer customers a unique experience and allow users to cross into alternate worlds, transcending physical and temporal spaces and boundaries. Customers will be able to shop in virtual stores and get 360-degree views and custom options that can’t be replicated in a physical location or exclusive to the metaverse.
Strengthen emotional relationships with clients: Immersive VR will enable brands to educate and delight customers by creating a wide range of immersive content in customer experiences, which will help enhance the overall experience and build brand loyalty.
Interactive Customer Support: The VR technology will be able to provide real-time support throughout the customer journey. Experiences such as product guides, virtual experiences, showrooms, and personalized suggestions will quickly and efficiently improve a seamless customer experience and simplify the buying process.
“Virtual reality technology will likely enable efficient data capture, evaluation and analysis, monitoring and control, and support decision making across the entire customer journey,” Mundy said.
“This data collection will be fast and convenient for customers before and after purchase,” she said, adding that it also has the potential to revolutionize the product experience, product usage perceptions as well as the entire customer consumption experience.
Anastasiia Gliebova, CEO and Co-founder of V-artCMSWire, a VR and digital content licensing service, said VR will help the metaverse grow and create highly engaging customer experiences. Glebova said virtual reality will also help brands “adapt more quickly to digital worlds that can offer a more cost-effective and faster way to create and hold virtual events such as fashion shows, art collection exhibition openings, game competitions, comedy shows — and much more.” .”
She said virtual reality also enables brands to fully track and measure the customer experience journey, including customer feedback on products.
Challenges facing brands with virtual reality
There are challenges for brands seeking to enter the world of virtual reality. VR comes with a high cost of entry for both brands and consumers.
Cheaper VR headsets are usually limited in their functionality or used in conjunction with high-end computers, and best-in-class standalone VR headsets that allow “full immersion” are still too expensive for many consumers.
Prices as of September 2022 for VR headsets vary from retailer to retailer, but can usually be found at the following prices:
Oculus Quest 2: $599
Meta Quest 2: $399
HP Reverb G2: $399
Sony PlayStation VR: $349
VR LED indicator: $999
HTC Vive Pro 2: $1295
Apple VR/AR: $2000 – $2500 (the expected cost)
For brands looking to create VR experiences for consumers in the metaverse, costs typically include purchasing virtual real estate, along with creating virtual buildings, digital twins and investment in virtual economy From the metaverse like creating items and events directly to your avatar (D2A), etc.
Another problem is that the majority of metaverses today do not support virtual reality. Sandbox, a popular virtual world, does not support virtual reality, and has no immediate plans to do so, nor does Decentraland, another popular metaverse.
Too little, like Somnium space and dead Horizon worlds, supports VR, however, for VR to transform the metaverse, those VR-enabled virtual worlds must also support multiple VR headsets. Horizon Worlds, for example, only supports Oculus headphones.
Low customer adoption also remains a challenge. According to 2022 Insider Intelligence ReportIn the United States, 66.8 million people have used virtual reality at least once a month and it is expected to reach more than 75 million users in 2025.
When one compares this to the number of active monthly social media users in the United States in 2022 (270 million according to global stats)it’s easy to see VR still has a long way to go before the majority of the population can use it – that is, if it exists.
Additionally, there is still a lack of compelling VR/metaverse applications available to consumers, particularly for people not interested in gaming. For gamers, there are virtual worlds like sandAnd the RobloxAnd the NVIDIA Omniverse And the Decentralandbut to the generation that grew up with gaming consoles and high-end graphics, these virtual worlds feel somewhat dated, reminiscent of graphics from the game worlds of the ’90s.
5G may be the technology that will remove this limitation, but for now, the majority of VR applications, including the metaverse, are not mobile.
Conclusion: Virtual Reality Can Transform Metaverse
Virtual reality has the potential to transform the metaverse from concept to widespread adoption and change the ways consumers interact with brands.
With VR, 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 many challenges in virtual reality, many brands believe that the opportunities it provides are worth investing in today.