Can Immersive Customer Experiences Cure the Skimpflation Blues?

By Jonathan Moran, SAS

Do you feel you’re paying more for products and services, whether it’s as simple as an item at a grocery store or an exciting weekend away? Do you feel you’re getting less for your money, either in the quantity of product or the quality of service? Skimpflation (and it’s not so well-known sibling shrinkflation) where we pay the same or more for a product and service, but the quantity or quality is less, are a real phenomenon! And right now, skimpflation (and shrinkflation) are direct contributors to poor consumer sentiment and a bad customer experience.

So how do brands address this? The answer is to focus on the experience a consumer has with your brand! That’s right, brands today must provide an immersive customer experience (CX).

Immersive CX can be defined as an experience with a brand that is multisensory – across all touchpoints and throughout the journey that a customer has with a brand. And immersive doesn’t mean diving into virtual or augmented reality. It means going beyond surface-level transactional interactions and immersing the customer in a relational experience that creates a trusted, positive emotional connection during moments that matter. Let’s talk about how brands can create immersive customer experiences across the customer journey.

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Creating Immersive Customer Experiences.

  1. Immersive customer experiences are created by managing the customer journey across a variety of channels or touchpoints with the intent of continually improving the brand-to-customer relationship. A brand that can seamlessly mix traditional channel experiences (web, email, mobile) with natural experiences (physical in-store, call center, voice to text, chat, haptic) -and extended experiences (augmented, virtual, mixed reality) throughout the customer journey are prime candidates for being able to provide immersive CX.
  2. The key is to seamlessly traverse channels, devices, and points in time just as customers do. Nothing detracts more from a brand-to-customer relationship than a frustrated customer having to re-explain their situation because legacy organizations have engagement channels that are operated in a siloed manner.
  3. An example of an immersive customer experience of someone purchasing a consumer electronic begins with web-based research and moves to a mobile app purchase to contact center support to email warranty registration to virtual reality in-home demonstration in a free-flowing and synchronized manner. This is a far cry from the disjointed, siloed-based brand-to-consumer interactions that occur along with the inflated prices and poor customer service most brands offer today.

The Results of Immersive Customer Experiences. Starting down the path of providing your customers with immersive customer experiences will result in big benefits for both your brand and your end customer.

  1. From a brand and business operations perspective, the end goal of delivering immersive CX will require some foundational components, namely sound data management practices, the ability to use analytics for insight and engagement, and the ability to develop, orchestrate, and measure customer journeys. With these components in place, a brand by default is prepared for a future of test and learn, experimentation, iteration, and improvement. The result is an agile organization that can adapt to changing customer needs and desires.
  1. From a customer perspective, immersive CX creation and delivery improve customer satisfaction metrics like engagement times and scores, conversion rates, customer and employee loyalty, and overall brand advocacy. Customers become happier when needs are met, and frustration is low.
  1. And perhaps the best part, immersive CX paves the way for (or progresses if you have already begun) digital transformation efforts. How? The two biggest goals of digital transformation, according to survey respondents of the Forrester Analytics Business Technographics Business and Technology Services Survey, 2020 are to improve operational efficiency (39%) and improve the customer experience (33%). Thus, digital transformation is a byproduct of providing immersive customer experiences.

Brands certainly can’t fully control inflation, global supply chains, staffing shortages, or broad-reaching economic policies – all of which create phenomena like skimpflation (and shrinkflation).  But brands can control the experience they provide to their customers. Working towards a fully immersive customer experience will benefit both the brand and the consumer.

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