Re-envisioning Customer Experience with Virtual Reality
- February 18, 2014
Long ago, before DVRs and LCDs, transistors and currency, electricity and even mathematics, there were stories: stories told from caring mother to sleepy child, between hunting buddies, while warming by a fire or even to ourselves during lonely sojourns.
Stories today, still fuel our collective imaginations; illuminating those 3-pound universes betwixt our ears. The subjects in the best of these stories, be they friends or foe, human or creature, remembered or fantasized, feel alive and vivid, nearly tangible- nearly ACTUAL- in their ability to make us laugh, cry, gasp, and ponder — and yet, they’re all virtual. Virtual!
Still today, it is within this state of mental virtual reality, that we find stories shaping us (even when we label them “experiences”), and in a manner not always apparent to us. They are a conduit for learning, they help us understand and relate to one another. They mold our memories, filter our perceptions, and frame our expectations. They compel behavior.
Now in Virtual Reality, the high tech multi-media kind with goggles and body tracking equipment, we can simulate experiences in real or imagined worlds, using it to better understand minds, experiences and behavior. And we can use it to shape those things, too. That’s where things get especially interesting. Changing behavior via stories—both true and promised—is, after all, what business and marketing strive to accomplish.
We’re preparing for our upcoming client symposium, Customer Connection, which focuses on the Customer Experience. Of course, we’ll be talking about powerful technology, big data, predictive analytics and methods for understanding customers more holistically (i.e., as living, breathing human beings with minds). We will also be sharing perspectives on how to design experiences that create the kind of stories that connect customers with brands in new ways.
So imagine the possibilities with Virtual Reality! We can simulate new environments and experiences, allowing us to experiment with the various elements of the experience and test their impact on perceptions, emotions, attitudes and behaviors. Traditional methods can get us part of the way there, but customers may not be able to envision different or future states. Even if they can, it may not be fully in line with what clients have mind, or customers’ reactions may be too filtered through conscious deliberation (the kind that occurs not as frequently as we’d like to think in the real world).
By augmenting study designs with highly realistic Virtual Reality simulations, we not only have greater expansion and control of experiences, but we have a means for stimulating customers with all those less conscious environmental cues that are prevalent when immersed in the real world, but impossible to render in a concept statement or traditional mock up. We can also collect new streams of data like body language tracking and eye gaze and marry those with implicit and explicit measures to gain new levels of insight. Think “The Matrix” meets Freud meets “Mad Men”, but not in some futuristic sci-fi story. This AppliedVR™ is what we’re doing today. Bottom line: we can gain much deeper insights to design customer-winning experiences without massive investments in test builds.
Whether it’s sitting around a camp fire telling tales, or in a classroom listening to lectures, or hearing our parents tell us “when I was your age” stories, we’re not only creating a virtual reality- an experience- in our minds, we are changing behavior, and the way we view and experience reality.
For the adventurous and curious among you, join us in creating new stories in new ways.