Ever dreamed of being the Nº 1 Company in the minds of your customers? Maybe even just for a minute? Today, being really successful is a major challenge for many companies. Customers are more demanding and hyper-connected. As a result, companies struggle to catch their attention. On top of that, customer interest fades quickly, which doesn’t make things any easier! This means that companies need to create a memorable customer experience. Nevertheless, some companies are doing well and are achieving buzz and curiosity for their brand by using new technologies, such as augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D printing.
This might sound unfamiliar, but I am sure you know Google’s famous product “Google Glass”. If you look through these glasses you will see reality overlaid with virtual elements, such as the name of the building you are looking at, the title of the song you are listening to or the picture of the person who’s calling you at that particular moment. This is what we call “augmented reality”.
Not many people are wearing Google glasses yet, but some companies such as Ikea have understood what augmented reality could bring to their clients. Ikea has developed an app that lets people design their home with Ikea furniture before even buying it. This brings customers the additional benefit of better visualizing products in the right environment.
Not only does augmented reality create a better shopping experience, but companies use it also to provide customers with additional information about their goods or to create completely new products. Look at 11 examples of augmented reality and its impact on the customer experience in the presentation below. Last, but not least, augmented reality can be displayed on all kinds of communication channels, such as bus shelters or cinema screens, which makes it a powerful advertising tool.
While augmented reality adds elements to the surrounding reality, virtual reality allows customers to explore a whole new environment: a virtual one. By using an Oculus mask, customers are immersed in a virtual world with which they can interact.
Possibilities in terms of improving the customer experience are limitless: make your customers experience a walk in their new house before it is even built; let them drive a concept car; or allow them to spend an hour on the moon. Virtual reality is developing very fast and adding new features to make the experience even more real. For example, Roto has developed a chair and other accessories that allow the user to experience the full sensation of virtual reality, instead of only the audiovisual aspects.
Virtual reality can definitely make people’s live a highly intensive experience. However, it is not a direct aid to increasing sales conversion rates, although it does have benefits in the decision-making stage of the customer journey. Indeed, it has been proven that customers who have touched a product and tested it are also more likely to purchase it. (ref: Time Magazine article: “Want to save money? Shop without touching”, 2009.)
We are already fairly familiar with the revolution 3D printing can bring to product development. Notwithstanding, what is less well known is the use of 3D printing in delivering a great customer experience. Brilliance, an online jewellery maker, for example, has a firm grasp on the extra value provided by 3D printing. A huge obstacle for online stores is the impossibility for customers to try the product before buying it. Brilliance has found the solution by offering their clients the convenience of printing their jewellery in 3D and testing it before ordering the final version. This certainly overcomes the main barrier for not buying!
Customer experience, yes! But at what cost?
It is true that the cost of certain technologies makes their implementation unthinkable. However, as we can learn from the story of Kodak, it is better to jump too early into the development of technology, than too late and miss out on the start. My advice is to keep an eye on the price of new technologies and have an implementation plan ready to be put into effect. Meanwhile, if you don’t have these technologies yourself or don’t have the expertise in-house, partner up with start-ups that offer innovative products. As these businesses are looking for brand awareness and customer interaction, this collaboration may be of value for them. In return, you can benefit from their creativity and skills. Take a look at the 10 start-ups to watch in 2016.
Without a doubt, new technologies can help you to have this extra element in your marketing plan so that you can create greater awareness and consideration for your brand. New technologies will help you to regain customer attention by improving customer experience across all channels. I am convinced that companies that embrace technology will be more successful in the future. But you need to be quick to take full advantage. Because never forget that customer interest fades quickly and that customers are always looking for exciting new expériences.
Slides: 11 augmented reality examples providing a new customer experience