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This article was written by Valerias Bangert, strategy and innovation consultant, founder of three media. Bangert is also a published author.
Perhaps no other term is as prevalent in customer experience (CX) circles as “metaverse”. First coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snowfallthe metaverse is a digital space where users can interact and create content.
In theory, this could be a breakthrough platform for CX. After all, the metaverse is largely a representation of the data companies collect about their customers, and customer data is a CX priority for leaders. The metaverse could be used to better understand customer behavior and preferences, and to create a more personalized customer experience. The metaverse could also be used to identify trends and make predictions about customer behavior.
But in practice, the metaverse has yet to take off. There are several reasons for this.
First, the user experience (UX) of most metaverse platforms is often clunky and difficult to navigate. Second, users lack compelling reasons to spend time in the metaverse. Finally, most metaverse platforms are aimed at developers or niche audiences rather than everyday business users.
Consider Roblox. It’s more than a kid’s video game, it’s possibly the biggest metaverse on the planet. There are nearly 50 million daily active users, more than half of them American children. It’s also a great example of why the Metaverse hasn’t taken off for everyday use cases, from shopping to banking. The Roblox platform attracts gamers because it’s fun and easy to use, but it doesn’t offer much utility for day-to-day activities.
So what would it take for the metaverse to become a mainstream customer experience platform? There are a few key ingredients. First of all, the UX needs to be much friendlier. Second, the metaverse must offer compelling reasons for users to spend time there. Finally, it should be accessible to mainstream users, not just developers.
If these issues can be addressed, the Metaverse could very well become the customer experience revolution we’ve been waiting for. Until then, it will likely remain a niche space for gamers and other enthusiasts.
That’s not to say the metaverse won’t one day take off. It’s just important to remember that this isn’t the only game in town when it comes to customer experience innovation.
The alternative: a better Internet, powered by data
The Metaverse aims to address a key sticking point of CX with the current state of the internet, which is a lack of interactive, engaging, and immersive experiences. But there are a number of startups and companies working to improve the internet experience without the need for a metaverse.
From interactive content to immersive experiences, the future of the internet is looking much brighter, and it’s all about data. In other words, we can use data to create innovative customer experiences, despite the metaverse.
The interactive content revolution
For one, the current state of Internet content is largely static. Websites are filled with text, images and videos, and there is very little that allows users to deeply interact with the content and change the course of it.
This is changing with the rise of interactive content, like quizzes, polls, surveys, and games. One of the best ways to use interactive content is to create customer feedback loops. This involves using interactive content as a way to collect customer data, which can then be used to improve the customer experience.
There are several ways to do this, but one of the most common is through quizzes and polls. You can collect data on customer preferences, demographics, and even purchase history. This information can then be used to create targeted advertisements, improve website design, and create more personalized content.
You’ve probably seen these types of content before, as they’re gaining popularity on websites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy.
That said, creators and everyday businesses are increasingly using these techniques. For example, implies.me advertises itself as a no-code tool for interactive content like quizzes, surveys, calculators, and more. It’s essentially a form of gamification useful for everything from customer retention to engagement.
Interactive content is more engaging and immersive, and it allows users to participate in content in ways that static content does not. It is helping to revolutionize the way we consume information and entertainment online.
Of course, interactive content isn’t quite as “sexy” as the metaverse. But it’s a more realistic way to improve the Internet experience, and it’s already having a big impact.
While the metaverse and virtual reality are very closely related concepts, there are alternative digital reality formats that are gaining traction. One example is immersive experiences, which combine digital content with the real world.
As a recent VentureBeat article explored, immersive experiences are already being used in many industries, from airlines to e-commerce. And it’s only going to become more prevalent in the years to come, with 80% of customers and businesses agreeing that “the experience a business provides is as important as its products or services.”
For example, online retailers are using immersive experiences to create a more personal shopping experience. For example, Amazon allows customers to virtually try on clothes by layering them over a selfie. This helps customers avoid buying clothes that don’t fit them and increases the likelihood that they’ll buy something they’re genuinely interested in.
In Amazon’s case, the data they use to create these immersive experiences comes both from customers and from their own product images. This data is used to boost sales, but also to recommend similar or complementary products to customers.
The bottom line
The data age is changing the way companies interact with their customers. While the Metaverse is not yet the customer experience revolution we expected, interactive content and immersive experiences are already changing the way customers interact with brands.
Valerias Bangert is a strategy and innovation consultant, founder of three media outlets and a published author.
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