Date Published: March 29, 2022 - Last Updated 360 Days, 9 Hours, 2 Minutes ago
Best of ICMI in 2022 - #2
Technology leaders are serious about the metaverse: a future in which our physical environment merges with the digital — in wholly immersive virtual reality. Trillions of dollars are being invested in the metaverse, rel="noopener noreferrer" and Mark Zuckerberg declared Facebook a "metaverse company" in 2021.
The metaverse will enable people to do all of the things we do in the real world, such as socialize, shop, and work, within a digital space. Unlike the physical world, the metaverse may not have limitations, and users might one day be able to jump in and out of parallel universes and infinite virtual spaces.
What is the metaverse?
In Neal Stephenson's cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, the word was initially used in 1992. The protagonist in the book is a hacker who can travel between a dystopian Los Angeles and the so-called 'Metaverse,' a virtual environment where avatars communicate.
After 30 years, Stephenson's hypothetical vision appears to be on the verge of becoming a reality in many aspects. People can access the metaverse via consoles or headsets, which many people are already doing. Perhaps the most well-known virtual world is the Roblox platform. Since launching in 2004, Roblox now has 47 million daily active users and nearly 10 million developers who create environments and games. Roblox is focused on creating an immersive environment using existing game technology rather than investing substantially in less mature technology such as AR and VR.
Why does the metaverse matter for business and contact centers?
We already know that omnichannel support is imperative for the modern customer experience. Multiple communication channels are enabled in an omnichannel contact center, but they are also interconnected, which means that an interaction may be maintained across mediums. The omnichannel contact center is a natural progression from multichannel networks of rel="noopener noreferrer" the early to mid-2000s.
Businesses that use multichannel engagement techniques keep 89% of their clients. Customers like the ability to smoothly transition from brick-and-mortar storefronts to online ordering to social media to email. A successful metaverse customer experience will allow your clients to effortlessly transition between your business and other spaces of the metaverse.
Although there is no open and connected metaverse yet, the success of Roblox and Fortnite with younger audiences tells you that there is a vast space for virtual worlds with their own economy.
Imagine putting on your VR headset and entering the metaverse. You could visit your bank and chat with a support team represented by holograms. The hologram team can explain details of a product or perhaps even guide you towards a digital demo. Customers don't have to write a long email or wait in a call queue. Instead, they get an immersive experience that gets their full attention and which is not possible in solely rel="noopener noreferrer" digital and physical worlds.
When using augmented reality, studies show the amount of information stored in memory is 70% higher than non-visual equivalents like a call or email. Contact centers can start offering experiences that have never been achievable in the real world.
Moreover, contact centers can benefit from cost savings. Instead of owning a physical building, staff can be equipped with headsets to enter the metaverse. While that might force new policies around health and safety, privacy, ethics, and the potential for "virtual addiction," at face value, there should be far more benefits than challenges.
A fully interconnected metaverse is indeed likely to be decades away, but in the next few years, everyone will probably be part of one in some way or another. As Facebook, Microsoft, and Epic Games continue to put huge investments and resources into creating metaverses. Virtual worlds are part of the future.
Millions of young people already engage in virtual worlds like Roblox or Fortnite, meaning the next generation is comfortable with the technology. As such, they are going to want companies to meet them there. Contact centers that plan for a metaverse customer experience now will have the upper hand in the future when the presently young audiences transform into core customers.
Ultimately, it is almost impossible to say when the metaverse will arrive at this stage, but we know it is on its way. If your customers decide to go there, you need to be available to service them and provide the immersive experience they demand. There is the potential to create something truly amazing and accessible to everyone, no matter who or where they are.