Alorica's CMO, bringing large-scale transformation to brands and creating a personalized CX via digital/traditional channels for 20+ years.
getty The hype cycle is in full effect, as the metaverse and a network of virtual worlds continues to grow. The immersive experiences that are enabled through the metaverse are truly groundbreaking and could unlock infinite possibilities for customer engagement. Though it's one of the most compelling tech shifts drawing attention, realizing the promise of the metaverse could depend on applying key lessons that CX leaders have taken from prior generations of digital channel adoption. In the early 2010s, for example, digital channels such as email, social media and SMS text were still under-leveraged, and brands with omnichannel functionality were at the vanguard. Then, as the network effect accelerated and consumption shifted to digital, consumers not only demanded choice in channels but also expected seamless brand interactions across these channels. This ushered in new platforms for customer relationship management, cloud delivery, APIs and interoperability between technologies. I believe the winners during this period maintained high-engagement service and delivery models by elegantly blending the ease and immediacy of digital channels with the problem-solving and empathy that skilled service agents deliver. Experiences in the metaverse should elevate and extend existing service experiences as a bridge to creating a new model for interactions. Beyond the technology capabilities, consumer adoption of the metaverse depends on the flywheel effect; platform providers should create transformational content to attract new customers and increase active users. The challenge is that many early activations are likely to lack access to support, be difficult to navigate or, even worse, expose users to negative experiences such as harassment. As platform providers determine how to solve the challenges of creating safe and interoperable brand environments, brands will be in a better position to create customer experiences that transcend established CX models. I think there will be a day when most consumers will have a presence in the metaverse, so companies should consider three key things to prepare to meet them where they're at in this virtual world.
What could initially entice customers to engage with companies in the metaverse is the opportunity to have a more in-depth, extended experience with brands and their products—such as being able to see firsthand how an appliance works, sitting in a new car or virtually touring a home for sale. With the current iteration of the metaverse largely promoting self-curation, users are building the world around them and driving their own experiences, including these extended brand interactions. It leaves much to the imagination, including all the various tech and content issues an IT or customer care professional could envision. Due to the learning curve of this new interaction model and the virtual nature of the metaverse, many users could struggle to understand how to navigate these new worlds. Consumers will inevitably encounter barriers that will prevent them from enjoying the full experience, including not only making transactions but also missing other important customer touchpoints, such as interactive games, digital prizes and product demonstrations. To ensure brands are equipped to support their audiences in the metaverse, they should ensure their customer service associates are immersed in these worlds and the currencies that fuel them. The truth is that many companies do not have the resources or the historical context to adequately educate and train their customer service teams for success in this new realm. That's why companies will need to leverage the CX expertise they built in the traditional world but also quickly get their teams familiar with and well versed in this new enterprise. Because the metaverse is largely decentralized, each world is governed by its own set of rules and policies that is designed to protect against misbehavior ranging from mild nuisances to full-fledged fraud and abuse. Metaverse platforms may have tools to automatically weed out user misbehavior, but these may not be 100% effective. It will ultimately fall on companies to ensure the branded experiences they offer are safe and secure. To fully insulate themselves from these risks, brands can build out their CX teams so that they have customer care professionals on hand to moderate behavior and content that encroaches on the branded experiences. At a minimum, brands setting up shop in the metaverse should ensure their content moderators and agents are available via live chat to help deal with any potential breaches in real time. Whether customer service agents are directly controlling avatars in the metaverse or streamlining support issues confined to the platforms themselves (or other third parties behind the scenes), CX professionals who are familiar with these worlds and experienced in navigating trust and safety issues will be beneficial.
Test, Learn And Test Again
We continue to learn from customer service interactions, which are becoming one of the key data sources for the world's largest brands. Agents do not just resolve issues but also serve as brand ambassadors who engage with customers by recommending products or services and collecting crucial information about the customer's journey.
In a new medium, no one gets it perfect out of the gate. The goal is to ensure you're listening to and engaging with customers to capture the impact of user activations. You can accomplish this in a number of ways, including by gamifying experiences for customers. This can help you increase engagement while also yielding direct feedback on sentiment and past experiences. Connecting customer profiles so that they bridge both online and offline activities can help you to build personalized experiences that are tailored to the individual customer and feel like a natural extension of your brand engagement.
There is little doubt in my mind that the metaverse will soon become pervasive. If adoption becomes increasingly widespread, consumers will expect the brands they love to create experiences that are engaging, personalized and memorable, while also ensuring safety and security. Companies that understand the inherent complexities and are well equipped to respond accordingly will be poised to win.
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