Immersive Virtual Reality – The Next Frontier in Customer Experience

    by Nick Rockafellow on Oct 23, 2018 12:00:00 PM

    In the last few years, improving the customer experience (CX) has become a focal point for businesses around the world. Companies both large and small have begun to invest in the next frontier of CX to drive customer acquisition and sales. Pushing that frontier is Immersive Virtual Reality (VR).

    Immersive virtual reality is a computer-generated 3D environment that allows the user to interact with the surroundings at will. These VR experiences can take the shape of anything from simple 3D generated images and models to a completely virtual world.

    While virtual reality is an incredible technology, many wonder if the phrase 'frontier' is really an accurate description of whether or not VR can transform the customer experience?

    Is It Really A Frontier?

    The word ‘frontier’ is ABSOLUTELY the best word to describe virtual reality as it pertains to consumer experience! Centuries ago, the frontier represented a land of opportunity. Gold, resources, riches, freedom, and more were all possibilities awaiting those able to successfully explore and utilize the frontier.

    Immersive virtual reality represents the same type of opportunity for increasing customer experience. Below are just a few of the benefits that VR can deliver:

    • Emotional Connection - One of the most unique aspects of VR is the ability to establish an emotional connection between a product or service and a customer
    • Flexibility - Virtual reality can be implemented in a variety of different manners from an in-store experience to an at home application and more
    • Trackable – Everything inside a VR experience can be tracked for accurate reporting and analysis
    • Immediate Purchases – Instead of having consumers experience a product then have to wait to purchase it, VR allows users to purchase an item instantly inside an experience
    • Global Reach – At home viewers and applications enable the same virtual reality experience to be viewed around the world
    • ROI – As compared to other technology and solutions, the ROI associated with a VR experience can be directly calculated and has been shown to deliver incredible results

    Just like early settlers on the frontier, a few companies have already started ‘exploring’ and implementing the technology to increase their customer experience. Below are 4 ways that VR is already being used to increase customer experience.

    4 Ways VR Is Being Used To Increase Customer Experience

    1) Alibaba

    Alibaba has integrated immersive virtual reality into their Buy+ events. Their VR implementations allow for customers to virtually be in a physical mall complete with large stores such as Target and Macy’s. More than 8 million shoppers have already experienced Alibaba's VR shopping app as the ability to buy items directly in the experience makes it increasingly popular.

    2) The New York Times

    It's no secret that younger readers are turning away from traditional news sources. To combat this problem, The New York Times has been implementing virtual reality into their story telling. Some editions of their newspaper can be viewed through an immersive VR experience to establish an emotion connection between the reader and the story.

    3) Facebook

    With all the hype around Facebook, it was only a matter of time before the tech giant broke into the virtual reality market. The company has launched a virtual reality version of their social networking platform that allows every individual to have their own avatar and interact with other avatars across the world. This implementation of their network allows for users to connect in an entirely unique way that.

    4) IKEA

    Similar to Alibaba, IKEA launched their own virtual reality experience. Customers are able to walk around a life-like kitchen and interact with different items and products through the use of two wands. Everything from the colors of different cabinets to specific utensils and items can be changed and altered to create the exact kitchen of someone's dream. The VR experience helps customers imagine what their home will be like with IKEA products and adds some fun into the home shopping experience!

    These four companies are already showing the benefits of using virtual reality to increase their customer's experience. With breakthroughs in the technology and large investments in the VR ecosystem happening every day, don't expect virtual reality to remain a new strategy for increasing customer experience. If we can give one piece of advice, it's this: don't wait until your competition implements VR to conquer the frontier!

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