The metaverse concept has captured the imagination of futurists for decades. With the advancement of blockchain technology, developing a fully-realized metaverse is becoming increasingly possible.
The merger of these technologies has the potential to significantly impact the future of customer experience (CX). They can transform how businesses interact with their customers, creating more personalized, immersive, and secure experiences. Forward-thinking brands, BPOs, and contact centers need to fully understand the implications of these two technologies for CX to better serve their customers.
Blockchain’s decentralized ledger allows it to track customer interactions and preferences, enabling businesses to create more personalized customer experiences. The metaverse allows the creation of immersive and interactive virtual environments, providing customers with unique and engaging experiences.
A blockchain-enabled metaverse can provide greater security and privacy for customers. All transactions and interactions are recorded on a decentralized ledger resistant to tampering and fraud, fostering unparalleled trust and consumer confidence.
Blockchain and the Metaverse Defined
Let’s examine the meaning of each term in greater detail before delving into the relationship between blockchain and the metaverse to understand their impact on CX.
We often associate blockchain with Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency, but that is only a single use case. Blockchain networks can track and trade virtually anything of value thanks to the ability to secure data storage, transmission, and synchronization via an immutable, decentralized ledger.
“Metaverse” refers to a digital world that merges virtual and augmented reality. The term originated in a 1992 sci-fi novel called Snow Crash. Think of the “real” version as a visually rich, fully immersive model of the internet that you enter via an avatar to interact with other participants.
The Blockchain-Metaverse Relationship
According to Anton Hristoff, blockchain expert with CXBI partner organization Virtual Operations and former head of blockchain services for KPMG, blockchain makes up the underlying technology on which the metaverse operates.
“You need the blockchain infrastructure to connect to the metaverse and integrate whatever you aim to do there,” he says. “It all relies on the decentralized infrastructure of blockchain concepts. Basically, the blockchain facilitates whatever happens on top of the metaverse.”
Hristoff compared the relationship between the two technologies to building a city.
“It’s almost like if you want to build a physical city,” he explains. “You need the underlying infrastructure laid out upfront. You need the cables. You need the pipes. You need the streets. You need the underlying infrastructure, and in a metaverse complex, this is blockchain.”
Metaverse Brand Adoption
Several enterprise brands have already invested seriously in the metaverse. The list is growing and consists of major players, including the NFL, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, and Amazon. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are jumping on board, too: Fashion brands like Forever 21, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Louis Vuitton represent just some early adopters.
As brands enter the metaverse, money is sure to follow. The global metaverse market size, valued at $22.79 billion (USD) in 2021, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 39.8% during 2022-2030. Some project revenue to be as high as $5 trillion by 2030, the equivalent of the world’s third-largest economy, Japan.
CX Metaverse Adoption
The metaverse’s advent is opening new doors for CX to connect customers and contact centers that serve them.
Stephanie M. Todd, founder and CEO of customer experience consulting company SoulCX, says that consumer adoption of the metaverse would be easier for people to understand.
“I think where people can go with it is I want to go into a virtual Nordstrom, try on a pair of jeans, see how they fit, talk to a virtual salesperson, whether that’s a human behind that avatar or maybe it’s an actual avatar, non-human related AI,” she says.
On the other hand, Todd sees BPOs and contact centers primarily using a metaverse to facilitate agent training.
“What I’ve seen in a lot of the space from a BPO standpoint is the metaverse utilized in training or employee engagement activities,” she says. “They’re trying to create worlds where you can go and interact with other people’s avatars. It’s still very, very new.”
CX Metaverse Challenges
Despite the promise CX adoption of the metaverse holds, challenges exist. BPOs and contact centers must address three: technology silos, status quo, and risk aversion.
“The traditional business silos in many companies prevent technology from truly existing without friction,” Todd says. “People want to install technology that fits their purpose within their functional area, but it’s not really looked at across the enterprise, nor are the unintended consequences of putting some of the tech in place.” Blockchain can link it all together.
I said earlier that blockchain is a disruptive technology that challenges the status quo — i.e., BPOs and contact centers’ reluctance to embrace new technologies.
Such reluctance is uncalled for, however. Blockchain’s architecture is built on security and trust. Since security and trust are foundational to BPO and contact center operations, it makes sense that blockchain should play a role. Implementing blockchain technology alongside the current focus on AI and RPA can also give BPOs and contact centers an advantage over their competitors.
BPOs and contact centers must be risk averse for good reason: Risk is everywhere — operations, finance, security, reputation, and compliance all present risks that must be managed proactively. Technology adoption is no different, especially considering how new blockchain and the metaverse are in the CX context.
But the benefits outweigh the risks. For CX leaders, blockchain offers the potential for increased data integrity, shorter handle times for sales and support requests, and a bypassing of information silos and disconnected systems. Blockchain technology gives the customer and contact center worker more control because the platform includes all the pertinent, encrypted information each party requires.
The metaverse also offers a range of benefits when secured by the structure of CX Blockchain. For example, it provides companies with a new way to communicate and collaborate virtually with customers worldwide and create unique, differentiated experiences that engage customers and build brand excitement, goodwill, and trust.
Steps to CX Metaverse Adoption
Both Todd and Hristoff agree that implementing blockchain and metaverse technology in CX requires a strategic approach. They recommend the following steps:
1. Determine the Purpose
The first question to answer is, “Why are customers contacting you in the first place?” Your response will help you determine what technology to implement, whether it be blockchain, metaverse, or something else.
2. Define your Technological Readiness
Hristoff advises companies to audit their technology environment before looking into the metaverse.
“Look into your own environment, how you do things, how digital you are, and where you are in terms of digital transformation,” he advises. “If you’re still doing things manually and heavily reliant on paper-based processes, you cannot go into the metaverse beyond the exploration phase.”
The transformation process begins by incorporating digital technology into normal operations more and more and then future-proofing the infrastructure by making it blockchain-enabled, connecting disparate databases and systems, so they interact. Relying on a partner like The CX Blockchain Institute can help you accelerate this process.
3. Design a Readiness Roadmap
After determining your organization’s purpose for using blockchain and metaverse technologies and defining your technological readiness, design a readiness roadmap to chart where you want to go regarding your use of the new frontier.
“You really need to define your aim when joining anything, the metaverse or whatever it might be,” Hristoff says. “Decide what you are trying to achieve there because you can do things with other technologies. For example, you don’t need the metaverse if you just want to have a virtual meeting.”
Both Todd and Hristoff believe developing a CX-enabled metaverse is inevitable and will have an explosive impact on customer experience. In their minds, it’s up to brands, BPOs, and contact centers to figure out how to use the technologies best to ensure the impact is positive.