3 Reasons Why You Need to Engage Customers Using Virtual Reality in 2016

Image courtesy of Sergey Galyonkin

If you’ve seen any news coverage of the Mobile World Congress, you’ll know that 2016 is going to be a massive year for virtual reality. LG announced a new headset. Samsung equipped the audience with VR goggles to launch the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Mark Zuckerberg made an appearance to announce that Facebook had formed a team to look into how virtual-reality technology could be applied beyond games.

This year will be the first time the general public will get their hands on the headsets. Does the technology have any applications for your business? Is it any more than a novelty?

Here are 3 reasons why you need to engage customers using virtual reality.

1. It’s cheaper than real life

The technology is being used by the education sector as it’s often cheaper and safer than on-the-ground training. National Grid has partnered with a VR company to provide training to its engineers. Virtual reality gives trainees the ability to experience a wide range of complex situations with minimal risk.

Each engineer is able to experience a first-hand view of the scenarios. This will improve the learning experience and lead to better situational knowledge. It just isn’t feasible to give every trainee experience in real situations but you can create a simulation, reducing training costs and reducing the number of on-the-job accidents.

Tommy Hilfiger recently trialled virtual reality to give shoppers the full fashion show experience, something that isn’t practical to do in real life. Customers can put on the goggles and experience the runway from front-row seats. They can “watch the clothes move and see the collection in the original show environment — it’s a compelling and interesting elevation of the traditional shopping experience,” said Hilfiger himself.

2. It allows easy personalisation

Other retailers are also trialling the technology, hoping more immersive content will convince customers to part with their money.

U.K.-based travel pioneer, Thomas Cook, has rolled out 3D virtual reality experiences to its flagship stores, giving customers a chance to experience a series of virtual holidays. They’ve seen a revenue increase of 190% for New York, just one of the featured destinations.

We used to have a 1-dimensional catalogue giving only top-level highlights of a destination. We then had 2-dimensional video showcasing more of a destination. However, with both mediums, your attention was focussed on whatever the content creator deemed most important. Virtual reality introduces a 3rd dimension and allows the customer to focus on whatever matters most to them.

Marco Ryan, Chief Digital Officer for Thomas Cook Group, says “the closer you get to the destination, the more excited you are to have that experience”.

Customers now expect a tailored experience. You only need to visit the Ikea website once and you’ll see adverts for Billy bookcases everywhere. Our ability to track and correlate online activity is incredible. It’s slightly unnerving if you think about it for too long but we are so used to these subconscious reinforcers suggesting that we’re browsing our own personal version of the web.

3. It’s what Millennials expect

The YouTube generation entering higher education will expect rich media content. Education hasn’t changed much in recent history so educators can differentiate themselves from the competition by improving their digital platforms for a generation very familiar with technology.

Mattel has even developed a device specifically aimed at children, with its own suite of educational apps. As these kids grow up and start their formal education, they’ll simply expect this technology to be available to them.

Andrew Connell, CTO of VR company Virtalis, says “it really improves student up-take when they see they’re going to be using the newest technology. Students are paying for their qualification, they’re customers. They ask themselves, ‘Am I going to be equipped to learn with the latest technologies, and am I going to be ready for the 21st century workplace?’ They’re looking for universities to go beyond classroom teaching.”

Whatever your industry, you’ll find someone using virtual reality to provide a captivating customer experience. Virtual reality will be the norm in just a few years. To really understand the technology will require some time to experiment and learn how it affects your business.

This article originally appeared as a video on the Future Proof channel.

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