According to statistics, the metaverse is predicted to reach the $800 billion mark by 2024. Company after company is investing in the metaverse and it is only a matter of time before it will become another channel customers use to interact with their favorite brands, just like they use social media or WhatsApp.
That the metaverse is gaining traction among the public says a recent survey by TELUS International which found that 72% of respondents believe brand interactions in the metaverse will one day replace real-world interactions. Some also think that brands will adopt a hybrid approach, to meet customers in both "worlds".
Further, 65% of respondents believe the metaverse will become mainstream in the next five years.
CX in the metaverse is likely to become a brand differentiator, as half of the respondents said they would choose one brand over another if it offered a superior experience in the metaverse.
When it comes to paying for a premium product or service, 27% of respondents said they would pay 5% more to receive a quality metaverse experience, while 22% would pay up to 10% more.
Land of opportunity
Gartner predicts that 25% of people will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse by 2026. Such popularity and endless possibilities of the virtual world will dramatically heighten customer expectations, leading brands to invest more in the quality of experiences in the metaverse.
In line with this, the survey revealed that respondents expect metaverse interactions with brands to be more engaging (53%), and customized to their interests (49%). Moreover, consumers reported they expect to discover new products and services (47%) in the virtual world and have their issues resolved more quickly (29%).
“Just as the internet and mobile apps revolutionized the way we interact with brands and consume information, goods and services, the metaverse offers brands exciting opportunities to interact with consumers in entirely new ways. Unlike physical environments which are limited by geographic and other barriers, these immersive digital 3D worlds open up a window of opportunity for brands - it offers them a space that’s accessible, allowing them to connect with consumers globally in unique and interactive ways, providing consumers with an enriched customer experience,” said Michael Ringman, Chief Information Officer at TELUS International.
Although the metaverse offers an abundance of opportunity in terms of immersive experiences, consumers are wary of doing certain activities in the virtual worlds. For example, only 35% of respondents said they would buy a house or rent an apartment in the real world through the metaverse. The same goes for vehicles since only 36% said they would purchase one through the virtual worlds.
By contrast, the survey respondents love gaming (79%) or engaging with a brand's customer service (68%) in the metaverse.
Safety remains a priority
The metaverse is still an unknown quantity for many, largely due to safety concerns. Sixty percent of respondents said they believe it will be easier for individuals to conceal inappropriate behavior in the metaverse, while 45% think brands are prepared to moderate content in order to keep users safe.
In addition, 67% think that brands' reputations can take a hit if they are not able to provide a safe space for their consumers in the metaverse. Monitoring content in the metaverse by humans is important to 96% of respondents, while 60% of them said they would prefer to have content reviewers in avatar form.
“Like we’ve seen with digital environments that have come before it, the metaverse is unfortunately not going to be immune to users who abuse these spaces, putting brand reputation and their customers at risk. As brands begin to explore this new platform, content moderation must be incorporated during the initial planning phase to ensure users experience a safe and inclusive environment. This will mean employing a mix of AI and human moderators to ensure a timely, accurate and inclusive review of content and behaviors,” added Ringman.
The survey suggests that brands should have content moderators, similar to those on social media platforms, in order to provide proactive support and ensure customers' well-being.