Virtual Reality Will Take Customer Expectations To The Next Level

The technology is getting more mainstream, and soon customers will expect to see before they book, and not just photos, warns Kate Ancketill, GDR Creative Intelligence founder.

Virtual Reality Will Take Customer Expectations To The Next Level

Brands need to start considering how virtual and augmented reality can lead to new products and ways of interacting with customers because the technology is here and becoming mainstream as prices tumble.

Kate Ancketill, chief executive and founder of GDR Creative Intelligence, told delegates at the Adobe Summit the development means consumers will have their service level expectations set far higher than today and will expect interactions with brands to bring an experiential twist. This will happen sooner than some brands may think, she warned, because prices are already coming down as virtual and augmented reality technology becomes “democratised.”

“If you’ve got two thousand pounds to spend on a meal, you can have the most amazing virtual reality experience at a restaurant in Ibiza, it’s pure theatre,” she said.

“Pop down to Covent Garden in London and you’ll see restaurants are already experimenting with project imagery on tables during a meal that costs £25. The technology is here, it’s coming down in price, and people are going to expect brands to offer new experiences through it.

“It’s big news for innovative development, like the new Galactica virtual reality ride at Alton Towers, but this isn’t just about gamers and teenagers. Soon enough everyday customers of all ages are going to expect to see what they’re buying in virtual reality. That has huge implications for areas such as hotels and holidays, and many other industries.”

Brands are already starting to get on board, Ancketill noted, including Martell’s recent Google Cardboard campaign to offer cognac purchasers a virtual flight from Paris to Shanghai. Doritos is encouraging customers to photograph individual tortilla crisps to receive “augmented reality” picture, which adds to the fun of buying the product.

The new technology is also offering brands a new way of interacting with customers, either through augmented reality, video chat, or chatbots.

“Google Glass might be sleeping right now, but the technology offers a huge opportunity for customer service levels,” Ancketill said.

“There’s a music store in the U.K.—you can click to have a video chat with a sales person who plays the instrument you’re interested in. They guide you around their selection and can play the instruments, and they’re reporting an encouraging rise in online sales through the technology. We’re going to see an explosion in chatbots who can proactively help you out along the lines of Hipmunk. It can see when you’re travelling and go out and look up flight times and hotel reservations, so all you have to do is click a button, it’s all done for you.”

Whether or not brands are actively investigating this new wave of technology, the warning from Ancketill is clear. As pioneer brands launch new immersive experiences and intuitive customer care systems, this is going to have a massive impact on what every brand’s consumers expect. The bar is about to be seriously raised when it comes to delighting customers.