In this second blog in our 6-part series, we’re looking what the metaverse could mean for consumers. Pascal Iakovou, Head of Social Media at Netino by Webhelp, examines how we already behave in metaversal spaces, and how the metaverse could change the way we do CX.

Are consumers excited about the metaverse?

As we discussed in the first blog, the metaverse is not a single thing. It’s a concept that encompasses multiple ideas, technologies, experiences and transactions. What unifies them is that they exist digitally within virtual worlds.

Most consumers are still unaware of this and unclear as to what the metaverse actually is. While marketers are excited about the metaverse and how it can help to position their brand as innovative and ‘modern’, the size of the audience they actually touch there remains small. For now at least.

In a survey of B2C marketing executives in the US, 77% of marketing execs replied that they were “eager” for their brand to explore what’s possible within the metaverse. By contrast, the same survey found that amongst online adults who understand what the metaverse is (not a huge number to begin with), just 34% are excited about its possibilities.

At the moment a lot of what we see is brands using a presence in the metaverse to create noise in the ‘real-world’. While some brands are leaping into the metaverse and doing some exciting things (check out Nikeland in Roblox), the actual experiences for virtual world visitors can sometimes be underwhelming. This is familiar territory. What we’re seeing is similar to the early days of the internet and the birth of e-commerce.

Brands are waiting for mass adoption of the metaverse to justify the investment needed to create rich experiences and MV-commerce platforms. But mass adoption will only occur when the metaverse creates real value and compelling reasons to (re)visit for large parts of the population. What comes first, the metaversal chicken – or the egg?

What could the future look like for customers?

We’re almost certainly going to see brands putting ecommerce offers into the metaverse. If a consumer goes to the trouble of locating a brand in the metaverse – not always easy – and shows up at their virtual door, you can be sure that they’re committed to that brand. Why wouldn’t brands want to reward those kind of superfans with a first-rate brand experience in the metaverse?

You can already interact with brands to buy NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens), where the virtual goods you buy are themselves part of the metaverse. You might buy a new pair of Nike NFT trainers for your avatar, for example.

We expect the metaverse to change the pace of interaction expected too. Imagine you’ve gone to a luxury boutique clothing store IRL (In Real Life). Before you even see any clothes, perhaps you’ve sat down on the huge antique sofa in the brand’s cavernous store and enjoyed a shot of espresso while chatting to one of the personal shoppers. It’s an experience, not merely a transaction. In a world of hyper-speed brand communications, fuelled by always-on social media channels, what if brands go the opposite way in the metaverse and create similarly rich retail experiences to savour, to luxuriate in, to really enjoy?

There will be no need for brands to limit themselves to NFTs in the metaverse, either. We expect to see brands creating designated retail spaces there, where you’ll be able to interact with accurate 3D digital versions of real products, purchase them in the metaverse and have the physical items delivered to your home.

You may also get the NFT version of the same product for your avatar to wear, or display in your metaversal space, pay for them and then get the actual goods sent straight to your real-world house. Brands will need their virtual and physical stores to offer a seamless retail experience.

It’s a brave new world

It won’t just be retail either. Brands will rethink their contact strategy for this brave new world for everything from how we socialise to how we work and play, and hopefully customers will be the winners.

Take banking for example. How many of us have seen our high street banks disappear, even though plenty of us still crave 1-2-1 banking advice? In the metaverse your bank could be open all day (and night), staffed by avatars – with real bank staff behind them. You can walk in and sit down to chat about your mortgage with your mortgage advisor’s avatar, who could be based anywhere (instead of the back room of your high street branch).

What does CX already look like in the metaverse?

That’s the potential future for customers. But as we’ve said, metaversal spaces are already here and thriving. Let’s take The Sandbox as an example. It’s a virtual world where players can build, own, and make money from their gaming experiences using the Ethereum blockchain. It’s the kind of place that partners with global sports icon and skater Tony Hawk, who recently announced he was working with The Sandbox to build ‘the biggest skatepark in the metaverse’.

Spaces like this are only the start. It’s a brave new world and Webhelp is on the frontline. We are currently partnering with The Sandbox to help guide visitors in the worlds and experiences on offer and help our partner to drive adoption and growth. We see first-hand the way customers are behaving and explore the unique set of CX challenges that the metaverse is going to bring.

We know, for example, that customers in the metaverse need plenty of help to orient themselves. There is work to be done in helping customers understand how these metaversal worlds work, with their blockchain and cryptocurrency, and adapt successfully and speedily to their new surroundings.

In our next blog we’ll look at what the metaverse could mean for employees. How should employers start thinking about what the metaverse will mean for their people?

Pascal Iakovou

Head of Social Media at Netino by Webhelp

Get in touch