As emerging technology capabilities continue to grow and improve, the line between digital and offline personas will blur.
People will spend more time – and money – in digital communities engaging with virtual friends, attaching more of their identity to their digital avatar. These digital communities and avatars are no longer just the reality for online gamers, but are finding their ways into the lives of all consumers and into our business lives, too.
Metaverse exemplifies the expectation that a digital culture will extend beyond gaming. A new Accenture report claims that the concept “shows promise … beyond its gaming roots,” and that it offers “people and brands a new place to interact, create, consume, and earn.”
As a simple example, you may virtually meet up with a friend at a 3D mall, hold and discuss purchasing an item, put that item in your shopping bag, and then when you leave the virtual mall that product is seamlessly shipped to your front door and your credit card is billed. Of course, you will earn loyalty points, thus contributing to the gamification.
Metaverse brings the interest in a gamified experience mainstream. With the blending of entertainment, social, and commerce, we are all gamers now. In the experience economy, companies in every industry that compete on delivering an omnichannel customer experience will be tasked with bringing metaverses into the fold as a new channel, ensuing consistency in engagement between virtual and online identities, and linking to the physical realm.
Everything there is to know
Despite the high-tech bells and whistles of the metaverse, the value is back to basics for brands: know thy customer and deliver relevance. Brands that compete on experience recognize the importance of developing a single customer view to provide a highly personalized experience on any channel that is consistently in the cadence of a customer journey.
With an estimated three billion gamers who regularly spend time in a virtual reality world – and with this concept going mainstream – consistent relevance will depend on brands incorporating digital personas into the single customer view. Those interacting in the metaverse provide not only strong behavioral signals, but also signals for how they interact with products and information – all mostly as-yet untapped data sources for creating a hyper-personalized customer experience.
The 3D virtual mall example above is a hypothetical, but it is not far-fetched to imagine countless metaverse use cases in industries outside of retail – where virtual try-ons and virtual assistants are already a reality. In healthcare, finance, travel, and other industries with a brand-consumer dynamic, combining virtual and physical worlds through a VR headset or other gamification tools will bring customers closer to brands.
Consistent relevance for any channel
Just like the rapid rise in popularity of curbside pick-up and buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS), the metaverse will bring new, and in many cases, unforeseen ways for customers to interact with brands. To prepare for any possibility, brands must be able to connect to all sources of customer data, and ensure that all sources and types of data are immediately enveloped into a persistently updated single customer view, or golden record.
The key here, however, is that once a business adopts the necessary technology that empowers these individualized journeys, the experience is future-proofed for emerging channels.
The inclusion of the metaverse as a channel brings home the importance of the real-time component in a single source of customer truth. A brand intent on delivering a consistently relevant experience must be able to stay in lockstep with a customer who might be inhabiting his or her digital persona for hours at a time, with multiple lengthy sessions each day.
To demonstrate a precise understanding of the customer, a brand must process a high volume of customer data in real time to be relevant both in the virtual world – as the virtual “journey” unfolds – and outside of it. Brands need to be able to access and use data generated from a virtual session to inform a next-best action on whatever channel the customer appears next – whether that’s seconds, minutes, hours, or days later.
If brands don’t make their customers feel understood and valued, customers will shift their interest – and spend – to a brand that does offer that superior customer experience and unique understanding. Alternatively, those who can deliver a seamless customer experience no matter the channel have an opportunity to create long-lasting relationships and capture share of wallet for both new and current customers.
Like curbside pickup, telehealth, online banking, and other innovative ways of interacting with customers before it, metaverse offers forward-thinking, data-driven brands another opportunity to deliver consistent relevance wherever and however a customer chooses to engage.
Brands can no longer afford to dismiss or ignore gaming as a niche activity enjoyed mostly by kids and teens. It’s big business. Both figuratively and literally, users have their fingers on the pulse for what animates three million of their fellow gaming enthusiasts. Engaging them as a powerful consumer bloc on their preferred channel levels the playing field in terms of delivering an omnichannel customer experience for every customer.