By Amit Luthra, COO, Teleperformance India
The digital world of today requires personalisation, interactivity, connection, and constant innovative updating. Customers are increasingly demanding more from brands, as their expectations and behaviour rapidly change. Companies are encouraged to think outside of the box and test the borders of conventional thinking in order to meet these demands.
The expanding rate of the Metaverse is causing the boundaries between virtual and non-virtual worlds to collapse, allowing them to blend into easily interchangeable realities. It offers new opportunities for businesses and their delivery methods of customer experience, building upon omnichannel models which suit the needs of every customer. It’s being dubbed the next big thing – and everyone is excited for it.
Although the Metaverse is still very much a new concept and is not quite here yet, its arrival is imminent, with businesses already being pressured to shift their priorities to invest in it. With Metaverse spending expected to reach trillions of dollars by 2030, companies are now racing to recalibrate business models and get their technology in place to offer the best possible customer experience.
Customer experience has become a multidimensional, tangible concept, which ultimately adds value to a business. In fact, research by American Express has revealed that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. Therefore, businesses need to embrace the limitless possibilities of the metaverse and expand into it as a vehicle to drive their CX management.
The Influence of the Metaverse Now
Customers now expect to interact with brands through multiple channels and touchpoints, and these need to extend beyond the artificiality of the two-dimensional internet. As businesses migrate to the Metaverse, they open up compelling opportunities to offer more immersive customer experiences, as a way to ease customers in and gauge behaviors. For example, retailers such as Home Depot and Zara have created apps in which you can turn on a ‘store mode’ which will locate certain products for users in-store or allow them to book changing rooms.
Brands need to act quickly to start investing time, money and talent into their Metaverse experiences to keep up with the speed at which it is accelerating, as it is simultaneously changing customer expectations. The retail sector appears to be adapting to the Metaverse quicker than others. Although online shopping has boomed and many brick-and-mortar locations have been dismantled as a result, there is an element of artificiality in online shopping.
Although it harnesses speed and convenience, it lacks a personal aspect. The Metaverse can bring that personal element to the home. Building on the nostalgia of shopping malls, retailers can reimagine their shopping experience by introducing digital stores within the Metaverse, where customers can interact with each other and buy exclusive products. This type of technology is already here, as seen with Nike’s ‘Nikeland’, which saw 7 million visitors in its first 2 months.
The most prominent space in which we have seen the Metaverse is within the big tech companies, such as Meta, Microsoft and Amazon. Back in September 2022, consumers in India got a glimpse at Amazon’s metaverse, known as the ‘Amazonmetaworld’, where they could engage in a series of interactive games and collect coupons whilst socialising.
Metaverse and Gamification
An estimated 2.9 billion people played a video game in 2021. It is therefore no surprise that the most developed and immersive experience currently in the Metaverse is the world of gaming. In fact, 97% of gaming executives believe that the gaming industry is the center of the Metaverse today. Through the, gamers can enter the world as an avatar, meet friends to play games with, and collect items. Switching between the Metaverse and the real world fluidly provides constant engagement and immersion.
To answer new expectations, companies are being pressured to make these types of developments and embrace the concept of the Metaverse. Ultimately, companies need to completely transform how they engage with their customers. But the issue is, due to the increasing demands of customers, there is no room for failure. Brands need to do it right, or else they risk losing out. One way in which they can ensure this is by using BPMs, who specialise in digitally integrated business services and can provide brands with transformational capabilities using the latest technology.
Leading global outsourcing service providers, like us, are already experienced in providing a robust omnichannel model for CX solutions – something that customers are seeking in the age of convenience right now. They can integrate a new service line into their existing omnichannel model to carefully and accurately provide augmented and virtual reality capabilities by expanding their virtual ecosystems into the Metaverse. This will enhance CX to make it simpler, faster, safer, and more of an immersive experience.
Unmatched Data Security
The foundations of the Metaverse are built upon verisimilitude – it tries to replicate the real world as closely as possible. This means even though it replicates the good parts, it also replicates the bad parts, and no interactions are off-limits. Companies need to ensure they have suitable and effective measures in place to protect against cyber assaults, especially within the gaming space. Just as people take precautions in the real world, they need to take similar ones in the Metaverse.
With new technologies come new risks, and this is something companies need to be aware of when entering the Metaverse. Hackers will inevitably be drawn to it due to the high volume of e-commerce transactions which will take place. This comes at a time when cybercrime has increased as a result of the pandemic, with it rising by 15% in 2021 compared to the previous year. Therefore, as companies enter the metaverse, security and privacy must be priorities.
The metaverse has a unique set of new trust and safety concerns, and any sort of cybercrime is likely to feel far more violating due to its immersive nature. Therefore, as brands invest in the metaverse, they need to equally invest in building cyber resilience in order to protect their users and customers. In the race to enter the Metaverse, many organisations are failing to prioritise information security, and not implementing the rigid precautions which are needed. The safer path is to choose established companies that are accelerating forward in building AR/VR environments. Seeking early and frequent input from these types of companies and cybersecurity experts is vital and can be achieved through outsourcing to digitally integrated business service providers who put such considerations front and center.
The Metaverse is Inevitable
Although it still feels like more of a concept rather than reality, experts predict that by 2030 the Metaverse will be inescapable. Therefore, it is not too early for businesses to start investing and building a seamless virtual and physical integration. Through extending their omnichannel customer experience into the metaverse, businesses can empower customers and create positive experiences. The more they invest now, the higher the rewards will be for businesses and customers alike, because each interaction matters.