In my opinion, one of the biggest customer experience (CX) trends in 2017 is actually going to be a continuation of something we have seen since the 1990s – Virtual Reality (VR). I know that a lot of people keep asking where the value is in VR, but I think that many commentators have been looking at the wrong part of this story.
VR is a proven technology. We know it works really well, but the problem has been that it is not easy to access. Even the more recent systems and headsets, like the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, require high-end PCs and are mainly focused on gaming still. So what is changing now?
In short, we are about to shift from a situation where very few people have access to VR to one where millions of homes have VR equipment easily available. The reason is that the recently launched Sony Playstation VR and the new version of the Microsoft Xbox (coming early in 2017) are both VR-ready.
It is likely that gaming will initially continue to be the primary use for VR, but I think that market dynamics will change just by having millions of VR-ready homes. This is particularly important in China as gaming consoles were banned until recently. We are looking at a market of about 600,000 consoles last year exploding to around 20 million in 2017 – just in China alone.
I’m sure that as people get used to gaming in VR they will start asking why brands are not offering similar experiences when they are thinking of buying big-ticket items. Travel agents can offer resort tours, car dealers can let you experience a new model, property developers can let you see a new apartment – all using VR without the customer needing to leave home.
As people get used to this online VR experience for big-ticket items, I’m sure new types of customer experience will be created that blend gaming with a brand interaction. It may not even be directly related to making a sale, but it can reinforce brand perceptions. Imagine how many Chinese consumers of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey would love to take a virtual tour of the distillery? Or how many would like to virtually visit the distillery of their favourite Scottish whisky producer? Or what about if you could explore the Mini production line in Oxford?
I think all these ideas, and more, will become common once VR is available in millions of homes. 2017 is the year when VR is finally going to make a major impact on the customer experience.
What do you think will be the biggest change in 2017? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn profile here.
Photo by Nurudin Jauhari licensed under Creative Commons.