The customer journey is closer to becoming seamless with the convergence of brand focus on UX, omnichannel, and overall shopping experience. However, much will change as a new sales channel emerges with the advent of the metaverse and augmented reality. What seems like a novel platform gained momentum with the recent announcement that Apple’s creation of immersive content for its Apple+ channel.
Much is written on the metaverse, from books to blogs. We will explore how customer and employee journey mapping needs to evolve to anticipate the desire of customers to engage with brands in a virtual world. We have outlined three factors brands should consider revising in their customer journey mapping exercises to ensure the outcomes align with the hidden needs of the shopper.
Factor One: A foresight view of the journey
Journey mapping often looks at the current customer journey and explores areas to remove friction points while also better engaging with customers. Technologies like 5G, AI, and augmented reality are becoming more prevalent, and organisations need to view potential experiences best on a range of possible horizons. You could argue that immediate challenges and quarterly earnings pressure are more pressing. The pandemic should be a lesson, one that had organizations scrambling to meet the needs of customers shifting to online sales or learning the impact of social marketing on brands.
The next journey mapping exercise should include three horizons of possibilities – the current trajectory based on known factors, a potential future scenario leveraging how current trends will impact the overall experience, and a scenario-based on early signals or emerging fringe trends. For example, who would have thought that food shortage in this century would have resulted in a supply chain disruption due to a regional war or a global pandemic? As you plan to better engage with customers, future-proofing is essential to combat these scenarios. Companies will need to become more agile, and having contingency plans will provide the organization with the appropriate lead time.
- Beyond defining personas, also explore different scenarios
- Explore strategic foresight exercises before initiating a customer journey
- Please take into consideration the role of early adopters and fast followers in how they embrace change
Factor 2: Move beyond friction points
We are nearing a point where the return on efficiencies due to technology advancements will lower returns. An over-emphasis on removing friction points will blind the delivery of breakthrough solutions. The journey mapping exercise needs to investigate areas of opportunity beyond removing creation steps while leveraging future scenarios. The introduction of new engagement channels such as the metaverse or augmented reality become new forms of engaging customers as part of the attract, engage, transact and retain stages of the experience. With the advent of these new technologies, mapping the journey needs to include employees who come in contact with customers and how to leverage these new tools.
In developing new engagement journeys, companies need to explore the unique benefits and key brand moments to engage the customer and help solve one of their critical unmet needs. For retailers, it may mean taking their online shopping to the next level allowing customers to visualize the garment through augmented reality or, in the successful example of IKEA, allowing the customer to visualize the catalogue item in the customer’s home. By exploring how immersive technology can enhance the shopper experience, marketers can also leverage new opportunities to inspire customers. The opportunity to improve employee training is just one more area of the shopping journey providing a platform to deliver exceptional value.
- Conduct an exercise where the sole purpose is to identify potential value creation steps
- Explore new unmet needs that current journeys do not provide
- Define the role immersive technologies offer to enhance and further engage with customers and employees
- Do not forget the role employees play as part of the new journey and how they become customers
Factor 3: No longer a linear model
To ensure mapping out the customer and employee journey remains relevant in today’s constantly evolving environment, companies need to move from a linear engagement model to one that reflects an ecosystem. The shift towards an ecosystem approach will necessitate rethinking the four stages of engagement symbolized by a road with different stops. For example, the future immersive ecosystem-driven journey may start with the retain stage of loyalty to bypass the attract stage of the transaction while moving back to the draw and gaining further information on a given product.
When preparing for a customer journey mapping exercise, redraw the linear journey typically found in these types of practices into one consisting of repeated circular trips. For example, moving from a visual road metaphor to one of a series of interconnected stops will help frame a new way of thinking of the customer journey. The exercise should reflect a potentially different type of mission trip or ways of engaging with the brand by leveraging the introduction of immersive yet mainstream technologies. For example, how will the customer journey change with the advent of intelligent glasses, which compresses the attract, engage and retain stages within a transact phase?
- Redraw the linear journey into repeated multiple circular trips to capture easily distracted consumers.
- Consider each ecosystem as a multi-tasking approach future customers will take as part of their shopping behavior.
- Explore how a retain stage in one ecosystem may impact the transaction in another.
The metaverse and immersive technologies will provide new opportunities to engage with customers. Similar to the introduction of smartphones, these platforms will start changing our behaviours and shopping habits. The opportunity for brands is to explore how these new technologies will impact future behaviours by mapping the impact well before they become mainstream, as waiting to find out could have disastrous outcomes on brands in all industries.
HOW WE CAN HELP
SLD provides a wide range of services to assist you and your organization in implementing new customer journey processes, namely:
- Strategic foresight future-proofing exercises
- Customer journey mapping workshops
- Benchmark and best-in-class audits
- Consumer and employee research
- Visioning sessions
Don’t hesitate to contact email@example.com if you have any questions or require assistance.