Immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have the potential to support businesses in building and maintaining strong customer relationships.
Implementing immersive strategies will not only attract new customers but also build long term brand loyalty and great customer experiences (CX). Recent research from PwC confirms that CX is the key driver in a customer’s decision making process. Speed, convenience, friendliness and crucially, a human connection are key indicators of what constitutes strong foundations for great customer experiences.
Particularly relevant during the Covid era, businesses who introduce immersive technologies to their company’s CX plan help them to reach out to customers in new and innovative ways and crucially these technologies provide a new channel for human connections. Immersive technologies can offer creative, emotional and practical routes to enriching customer relationships, build brand loyalty and ultimately increase sales.
What’s more, advances in technology make AR and VR customer experiences more realistic and user friendly, and combined with greater accessibility and affordability of hardware, plus improved mobile connectivity, AR and VR have the potential to move into the mainstream.
Why brands benefit using AR/VR for Customer Experiences
Enhances ability of brand to connect with customers
Immersive content has the potential to delight and inform customers. From engaging experiential immersive marketing experiences at the start of your customer’s journey, through to building immersive content into customer experience centres, AR and VR can enhance customer experiences and help brands to build brand loyalty.
Supporting customers to make informed decisions
Immersive tools help customers ‘try before they buy’. Retail brands like Ikea are using AR to give customers the chance to gain an accurate visual perspective and make informed purchases.
Providing practical post-purchase customer service
Immersive tech can provide more down to earth and practical support throughout the customer journey. Retailers like Nespresso are using AR for customers to unlock a step-by-step guide by scanning the packaging with a mobile phone.
How brands use AR/VR to deliver strong customer experiences
Virtual Car Showrooms
Car purchases are one of the biggest spending decisions a customer can make. Being supported in making the right choice to get the vehicle of our dreams is crucial. Immersive technologies can help customers visualise personalised versions of their vehicles; especially useful when viewing an exact physical version is impossible. Audi and BMW offer both VR and AR to enhance their customer’s experience.
The more a customer feels an emotional connection to a brand, the more likely they will feel loyalty to that brand. Good marketing plays a key role in developing these relationships, and with the potential for show stopping imagery and storytelling, immersive technologies offer marketers the dream tools for making memorable content that draws on the customer’s emotions. Nike and Toms have both used AR for successful experiential marketing campaigns.
VR and AR is revolutionising client relationships in the architecture sector. Clients can fully immerse themselves in a digital version of a future building as they walk around a finished and furnished version in virtual reality, even before one brick has been laid. AR can bring 2D drawing to 3D life, significantly improving the architect/client relationship and making sure the architect and client are all on the same page enabling them to identify and address any issues at an early stage.
Fashion Cosmetics & Retail
AR and VR can help customers visualise fashion with the development of virtual changing rooms. Customers have the chance to view AR versions of clothing on avatars that reflect their own body shapes, helping them to make more informed purchasing decisions and also avoid the hassle (and negative customer experience) of having to send back clothes that they don’t like.
Cosmetic brands like Chanel and L’Oreal are using AR to give customers the chance to virtually try on ranges of make-up on their own facial images. This not only helps customers to make purchasing decisions but it also creates images of the customer’s look which can then be shared with their friends and their online communities via social media platforms, helping to broaden the brand’s audience reach.
Tourism & Hospitality
With the devastating impact that Covid has had on the hospitality and tourism sector, innovating to survive and build for the future is crucial. Some businesses and organisations such as Kuoni have developed 360 VR tours of places and resorts, with the aim of converting these ‘pre-dreamer’ experiences into holiday bookings in the future.
In the future, tour operators are looking to use immersive technologies to help customers choose anything from plane seats to hotel rooms. VR tourist-based experiences could usher in a new, sustainable form of tourism for companies, where virtual tourists can visit hard to reach places in a greener, more socially responsible way.
VR and AR have the power to make customers feel special, valued and empowered by a brand. And that’s potentially just what your customer experience strategy needs to help your business to build the strong foundations it needs to grow in these challenging times.