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March 25, 2021

How Immersive Technology Will Transform the Post Covid Customer Experience Centres

The Covid pandemic has had a fundamental impact on many of our working practices, including a significant shift to remote working and largely halting face-to-face meetings. In light of these monumental changes, what has been the effect on customer experience centres during lockdown and what is the potential long term impact? And could the adoption of immersive technologies such as virtual reality hold the key to the future of customer experience centres in the post-Covid age? 

Current Challenges Facing Customer Experience Centres

Great customer relationships are no longer simply built on the provision of great products and services, they increasingly also require personalised, authentic and positive customer interactions. Until 2020, customer experience centres (CECs) provided a diverse range of brands, from tech companies to financial organisations and beyond, an interactive and physical space to effectively connect with potential and existing companies in impactful ways. 

But in 2020, as the Covid pandemic hit, customer experience centres across the globe were forced to close their doors to customers. As centres remain empty in the short term, this has an immediate impact on a company’s potential to develop strong customer relationships that needs to be addressed.

Businesses need to diversify the concept of what a customer experience centres is, in order to future proof their offer so they can adapt to both the unknown long term impact of the Covid pandemic, in addition to ongoing changes to customer behaviour trends.  

Virtual Reality can Enhance Customer Experience Centres Post Covid

Immersive technologies may just hold the key. The perception that virtual reality is a passive and solitary experience that takes individuals away from the real world into a closed imagined space is outdated. VR platforms such as Future Visual’s VISIONxR™ allow multiple people to interact and share virtual spaces, even if they are thousands of miles apart in reality. What’s more, they offer distraction-free spaces, allowing customers to be truly immersed into a brand experience.

Great Customer Experience Centres aren’t simply spaces to talk at customers, they provide a place where customers can talk to the teams behind the brand, explain their needs and explore the potential solutions that a brand’s products and services can provide. VR Customer Experience Centres have the potential to accurately replicate physical spaces, but in a virtual and socially distanced domain. And while physical spaces remained closed, this can offer brands the chance to maintain a crucial touchpoint with existing and potential customers, whilst also giving customers the chance to explore products and services in detail. 

A strength of VR is that it isn’t bound by the limitations of reality, meaning it can offer both creative, impactful and spectacular experiences, as well as a practical tool for customers to truly scrutinise products in the minutest of detail. So your customer wants to shrink in size to go on a journey into the workings of your product? Virtual reality can make this happen; imagination is the only limitation.    

This means that in addition to addressing the immediate challenges of the Covid pandemic, the adoption of VR can also open the door to new opportunities for brands looking to enhance their Customer Experience Centres in the long term. Beyond looking for solutions to address Covid restrictions, merging physical and virtual spaces by integrating immersive technologies into a company’s customer experience centre can offer new and innovative ways to strengthen customer relationships and ultimately boost sales. 

Implementing an Immersive Customer Experience Centre (CEC)

Whether they are accessing your immersive customer experience centre remotely, or on site as part of a physical CEC, for immersive technologies to make a positive impact, there are some fundamental considerations to remember and practical steps to take, including: 

  • Integrating VR into customer relationship strategies

Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how this works seamlessly with existing customer relationship activity is key. Think about how a VR experience can enhance your customers’ interaction with your brand. Audit your existing assets to assess how these can be replicated and explored in a 3D virtual space.

  • Putting the customer journey at the heart of the experience

Your customer’s journey needs to take centre stage – and this includes the whole experience rather than just what happens inside the headset. Remember that many of the potential users will never have experienced virtual reality before, so any VR experience should also include clear instructions for using equipment, as well as simple navigation once in the experience.

When developing your VR experience, think carefully about the functionality, as well as the look and feel of the experience. Think about the different routes that a user can take, the cues and tasks needed to spark interactivity, as well as the balance between individual exploration and meeting points for connecting with customers inside the VR experience. Don’t forget to test usability in advance of launching, to assess where changes might need to be made to make the experience comfortable as well as engaging and informative.

  • Considering  physical spaces

Remember that although a VR experience takes users to another virtual space, they are still physically in the real world. Experiences need to be safe to use, so if intended to be used remotely, make sure that users are aware of the space they may need and to clear spaces of any trip hazards. While this is also applicable for experiences undertaken in physical CECs, in these spaces, other issues such as training staff to support users and hardware cleaning procedures need to be considered to keep customers safe. Additionally, make sure there is synergy between the physical space and VR experience in terms of telling the brand story. 

  • Building in data collection

One of the great things about VR is its potential to monitor and evaluate usability.  Data such as eyetracking, movement and time spent on specific activity can be monitored through VR hardware, in addition to any post-experience feedback given by customers. By identifying measurable key performance indicators you can accurately assess what is working and, crucially, where improvements need to be made to futureproof the experience.

Conclusion

Immersive technologies have the potential to help businesses to stay connected with customers and encourage brand loyalty, both in the short term in response to the immediate challenges that Covid presents and as an effective communications tool in the years to come. 

Immersive technologies should be seriously considered as a part of a company’s long term customer experience strategy, not necessarily to replace, but to enhance physical customer experience centres. A well designed Customer Experience Centre has to be adaptable to changing customer behaviours and digital technologies have always played a crucial role in ensuring that CECs help businesses to provide incredible and engaging customer experiences and stand out from their competitors. Immersive technologies have the potential to not only connect with customers remotely, but also to breathe new life into a location based customer experience centre and provide customers with truly memorable and thought provoking experiences to positively showcase brands for the challenging years ahead. 

Interested in finding out how you could integrate virtual reality into your company’s customer relationship strategies? Contact Future Visual today and let us take you through a demo.