This year, investments in immersive experiences will turn browsing into virtual inhabiting, according to Forrester. However, immersive experiences can do more than simply make online shopping and learning feel “more real.”
When designed and deployed correctly, with the end user’s needs and wishes in mind, immersive experiences can effectively provide superpower-like capabilities and experiences to customers, employees, and other users.
Immersive experiences can give people the ability to do what they may not have been able to do, or to do things in a unique way.
Unique experiences and new abilities can help brands avoid the kind of digital sameness that Forrester describes as an ongoing, pervasive problem for brands that need to demonstrate business value in crowded markets.
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What is immersive experience?
An immersive experience is a multi-sensory experience across a journey, or task that’s contextually relevant, enabled by a combination of interactions that create intuitive and emotional value for the user.
How can brands create the kinds of experiences that give users these new abilities, evoke a sense of emotion, drive better relationships, and set them apart? Those interactions can be presented through:
- Flat (screen-based) interfaces
- Natural (spatial, voice, gesture-based, auditory, or olfactory) interfaces
- Extended reality (3D, augmented, virtual, or mixed reality)
The use-case context and journey goal of each immersive experience determine the interfaces and technology required to create it.
The ultimate immersive experience is not just through one technology, but a combination of multiple modalities.
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Give your customers superpowers
The goal of designing an immersive experience should be to grant a user’s wish to escape reality, delve into a new mindset, or extend their capabilities beyond what’s normally possible.
For example, a travel customer might wish they could visit a popular destination before booking a family vacation. An escape-style immersive experience could show them in vivid detail whether a particular resort, hotel, attraction, or park is right for their family.
An automaker’s customer, on the other hand, might wish they could see exactly what the car they’re configuring online will look like from every angle and up close (or in a virtual reality digital twin of the car) before finalizing their order. An immersive experience can give them the confidence to make the purchase, while driving a higher price point and margin for the automaker.
Both types of immersive experiences can be compelling, memorable, and intuitive enough to differentiate brands from their competitors and build customer loyalty.
Some brands and organizations are already providing these experiences in creative and helpful ways – and are enjoying the rewards.
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Enhancing reality with new levels of experience can help brands of all kinds generate more engagement and build their brand.
For example, augmented reality helped one fine-arts organization attract more visitors, drive more engagement, and strengthen visitor connections. The organization worked with immersive experience designers to create a René Magritte exhibit that allowed visitors to interact with the exhibit in unexpected ways. Digital windows in the gallery, based on Magritte’s window themes, showed visitors reflections that were rearranged or moving in different directions from the viewer.
Ninety-seven percent of the museum visitors engaged with the Magritte exhibit during its six-month run, and 80% said the immersive experience enhanced their visit.
Immersive escapes from reality can serve more challenging purposes, too. New insurance adjusters need to know what to look for when they walk through a home or business that’s been damaged by a flood, fire, or other natural disaster. They also need to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the experience.
An immersive training experience that combines sight, sound, and even smell can help new adjusters learn what to look for and how to move through a disaster scene from their workplace. It also spares the employer the expense and risk of staging physical disaster mockups for training purposes or sending new employees into real disaster situations for training.
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Benefits for customers and employees
Most online shoppers wish they could be certain of what they’re getting before they make a purchase. Threekit found that 61% of consumers prefer to shop at online stores that offer an AR experience.
When immersive 3D technology lets a shopper see the grain of upholstery fabric or leather up close, get a 360-degree view of an armchair, and see how it fits into their available space and décor, that customer can be more certain about whether it’s the right item for them.
Immersive experiences can also improve the employee experience. For example, employees of a European vehicle manufacturer who want to collaborate in person with colleagues across the continent can do so with immersive, metaverse-enabling technology.
Remote VR meetings help designers and operators quickly solve production issues in real-time by sharing video, 3D images, and documents. Employees feel more empowered and connected, and the manufacturer reduces downtime by resolving issues faster.
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Break the mold for stand-out CX
Making customers, patients, employees, and other users feel like superheroes with immersive experiences is more than a marketing strategy.
Brands that use immersive technology in this way set themselves apart not only by the quality of those experiences but also by what they help users achieve — more creativity and joy, more comprehensive on-the-job learning, more satisfaction with purchases, and more sense of accomplishment at work.
Providing that power can inspire loyalty and help brands escape the trap of digital sameness.
Step 1: Craft experiences your customers will love.
Step 2: Watch customer loyalty + profits grow.
Learn how HERE!