Taking Customer Experiences To The Next Level
Marketers often see technologies such as VR and AI as fun and games. Here are a few ideas how to make them work for your brand.
New technology has much to offer when it comes to building out better customer experiences and support functions. Yet many marketers are put off by preconceptions around new technologies and questions about its relevance. It’s time to think again.
As a marketer, it may not be immediately apparent how some of the most advanced new technologies can apply to your business. This could well be because developments including technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are often introduced as a way to do branded gaming, viral events, or other marketing tricks.
While this extremely creative, technology-driven experiential marketing has its place, this way of launching new technologies can make them seem nothing more than fun and games, and of no great use to your brand. In some cases, that’s absolutely right.
But rather than being deterred by the way new technology is presented, marketers should instead start innovating, and figuring out how to apply new possibilities as part of a solution-based approach. In doing so, being critical about new technologies will ensure you do not get aimlessly carried away by the latest gadget, gizmo, software, or hardware trend, but will also give you scope to innovate. Even as impressive as any technology may be, however, people should always be first and technology second when looking at it as a way to strengthen your customer relationships.
Creating Experience Loops Of Before, During, And After
As an inspiration, let me introduce the Audience Experience Loop, a model developed by the strategic experience design studio AdventureLAB to establish and continuously build positive sentiment for services, products, or places. By using this approach, it’s possible to create a virtuous circle of the customer experience from the Before, During, and After stages of a conversion, which ultimately leads to more conversions.
The premise of the Audience Experience Loop is that customer experience is not just the here-and-now, but consists of many experiences that lead up to and drive conversion, as well as crucial points after it. Keep in mind that every lead-in or lead-out or key experience the customer has with your brand is part of their total experience. Using this as your focal point, you will have a basic guideline to figure out what is relevant when it comes to new media and technologies.
Below are some examples of where this thinking can take us.
BEFORE: Go Beyond Automation
Before any sale or conversion, you will, of course, need to attract the attention of your potential customers. Please do not fall into the trap of thinking that anyone will be convinced by retargeted marketing automation. Most of what we see today is simply not intelligent enough. Consider, instead, what artificial intelligence could do to drive awareness. Even fairly simple virtual software robots, or “bots,” can make it hard to tell the difference between real and virtual people.
Perhaps it is time to think about not the right automation system, but the right virtual representative?
DURING: Design A Multi-Step Buying Experience
Regarding the important conversion experience itself, bear in mind this is actually made up of a series of experiences. To your customer, the experience of buying is also the experience of unboxing, or entering a hotel room, as well as enjoying the approval and admiration of peers, family, or fellow travellers. Apple, for example, is extremely aware of the value of unboxing and has designed the experience accordingly.
You, too, should consider this as part of your product. Why not put a QR code inside the box, which when scanned brings up a message from the CEO or designer thanking the customer for the purchase? Any extras you add to the unboxing experience can drive people to your website.
AFTER: Continue To Impress Customers
Following any purchase, whether a product or a service, you should be prepared to actively seek out customer feedback and offer support as needed. This will not only allow you to build up a following of happy customers, but of loyal advocates of your brand.
Long gone are the days when you could ignore your customers’ frustrations by not allowing them to share their opinions. They will find other places to do this, and your silence can be fatal. Not to them, but to your business. Customer experience can be both negative and positive, and you need to continuously work on moving the dial from minus to plus. There are lots of tracking tools available to help, showing both mentions and sentiment towards your brand online. Some of them are even free, such as Social Mention. But why not go one step further and pro-actively impress your customers?
Cue augmented reality (AR) live streams. Unlike virtual reality, where the audience is completely immersed in a virtual world, AR instead lets you see the real world as seen through the camera of your device together with a simultaneous virtual layer. Furthermore, it can be a shared experience with others, such as customer support, now able to view the customer’s stream as well. In other words, your support staff can see exactly what the customer sees at the same time. In this way, you could show and tell your customers what they need to do in real time, regardless of whether you are in the same room, city, or even country, as long as you both are online. This could become a pivotal part of the post-sales customer experience, and is a new technology service being offered by the likes of Remote Eye.
Given all this potential, perhaps it’s time to take another, fresh look at ideas and technologies you may have already dismissed. There could be real value in them for both you and your customers.