Virtual reality (VR) has been with us as a technology for decades now. And it’s gotten better and better at simulating aspects of the real world. A recent story in the WSJ (“Where Virtual Reality is Heading,” 2/10/2016) takes a look at some possibilities for VR in future – especially its ability to provoke (and rehearse) behavior change. An example: a diversity training simulation where you get to experience prejudice directly.
So when we talk about increasing the effectiveness of our marketing programs by getting more attuned to “the customer experience,” we’re addressing potential VR applications that have a lot of potential. What kind of decisions does a customer need to make as he/she considers purchasing your product or service offering? How does your salesperson react to specific customer cues? And what kinds of challenges are your customer contact people likely to encounter when they interact in real settings? All of these questions can at least hypothetically be addressed through a VR simulation that aims to change our thinking and improve our actions.
By the same token, interacting with VR simulations can help build new tactics for advancing marketing and sales craft. Anyone who deals directly with customers can learn and practice new behaviors by being “in” a reality situation designed to mirror the ways we typically grasp and respond to customer cues. If we believe that listening to and learning from customers are keys to improving our business, then VR technology begs to be used as a uniquely engaging, and fascinating tool.