How Will The Metaverse Change The Way Customers Interact?

If you are not entirely sure what the metaverse actually is, you’re not alone. You’ll hear and see references to the metaverse everywhere at the moment, but what exactly is it? Different articles you read will all define it differently, but Wired has a helpful suggestion to make it more accessible, while also pointing out how abstract a concept it can be: “Mentally replace the phrase “the metaverse” in a sentence with “cyberspace.” Ninety percent of the time, the meaning won’t substantially change”.

The metaverse aims to merge our digital and physical lives. Tech Target spells it out more substantially for us: “In the metaverse, users traverse a virtual world that mimics aspects of the physical world using such technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), AI, social media and digital currency”. But what does this have to do with customers and how they interact with businesses?

How is the metaverse already shaping customer experiences?

We are already seeing the rise of the virtual, immersive experience. Think museum or festival immersive experiences like the recent Van Gogh immersive experience, but without leaving your house. Working environments are even beginning to be replicated in the metaverse. What was once considered a gaming feature is set to become an integral part of how we will shop, live, and learn.

Don’t get left behind

Gartner predicts that, by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, entertainment, and social interaction. Businesses have the opportunity today to start thinking about how their customers will interact with them in the metaverse. With so little currently defined in this space, it also offers the opportunity to think ahead and consider the types of products and services businesses can provide in the future. And how these interactions will be made and distributed.

How will the metaverse impact businesses?

As Bloomberg calculates the metaverse marketplace could be worth about USD 800 billion by 2024, this is an area where designing the right customer experiences from the outset will be key. There is some speculation that the metaverse will mainly replace our physical world – after all, we’ve already seen businesses go from physical to digital interactions as technology has evolved.

We have moved from having to visit a physical location with physical cash to be able to buy a product to being able to order and pay by post and cheque, then to ordering online and paying by card for home delivery. These days we can order on an app, pay by app, and get delivery to wherever we choose. Not to mention, returns can be made directly from our houses now, too. The next step is for immersive interactions to complement that which has come before, rather than replacing it all.

The Harvard Business Review also makes the point that, as inherently social beings, speculation that the metaverse will effectively ‘replace’ the physical world is unlikely. Instead, they believe, “the metaverse is a mechanism for enhancing the physical world”. We believe the next phase offers the opportunity to start acting today to prepare for the future.

How can businesses prepare for the metaverse?

With very little currently defined in this space, a new set of skills is required for businesses to understand the emerging and future needs of customers. Shaping service experiences that respond swiftly as business models extend into meta businesses will need clarity. Reimagining services in this landscape without this could prove to be a costly exercise. As developing these skills in house takes time, partnering with the right people will enable businesses to react quickly and adapt at scale.

Clear purpose and strategy are needed before product and innovation teams can start exploring what the metaverse will mean for their business in the future: buying or developing assets in the metaverse would be a risky business without this. As the metaverse changes the way customers engage with businesses there is a real opportunity to deliver new experiences.

Designing experiences in the metaverse

Whether or not you are concerned about what the metaverse will mean for you and your ‘readiness’ for it, Engine Service Design’s methodology inherently helps companies design with the future in mind. Our processes will make you think about the future and future customer expectations, helping you design ‘future ready’ products and services. Get in Touch to find out how we can help you deliver brilliant customer experiences.

Chatbots: Three service design challenges

Chatbots can revolutionize a company’s customer service by automating tasks and reducing case volume. However, they are only useful as an alternative to human customer service agents when designed properly. Poorly planned chatbots can frustrate and alienate customers instead.

A Markets and Markets report on the global chatbot market forecasts that it will grow from an estimated USD 2.9 billion in 2020 to USD 10.5 billion by 2026. This is partly due to technological advances and consumer expectations of 24/7 self-service and customer service growing faster than anticipated during the pandemic. Chatbots are an increasingly essential part of a company’s arsenal, so they must be well designed.

There are three main service design challenges to consider when designing customer service chatbots.

    1. Chatbots cannot form context: Chatbots lack the ability to form a context outside the query. For example, they will not appreciate an urgent issue or an emergency. They will not triage an issue and escalate it unless the global intent category has been designed to do so. This means that they may be unable to deal with an edge case appropriately by providing an acceptable response.


Because chatbots are programmed to listen for keywords, they effectively expect issues to be described in terms they can understand. This means they may not be able to interpret the real question that is being asked, leading to incorrect responses and frustrated customers.

    1. Chatbots have no empathy: Chatbots lack the soft skills and emotional intelligence that (currently) set humans apart from machines. Chatbots have no cultural sensitivity. They are also unable to interpret tone of voice so a humorous, sarcastic, or angry comment would be taken entirely at face value and answered accordingly.
    2. Chatbots are one-dimensional: As chatbots do not benefit from soft skills when interacting they can be difficult for customers to relate to. If a customer asks a question that is not within the chatbot’s decision tree, the chatbot’s default response could annoy. As chatbots cannot currently “learn from their mistakes”, this is a risk that needs to be managed properly from the outset.


Once a customer has asked an initial question a chatbot may have to continue down a specific problem-solving path even though there may have been a much quicker way to resolve the problem. This and the inability to understand context and nuance, as discussed, can lead to potentially disastrous situations where the customer feels unheard or misunderstood. Not only does the customer’s issue remain unresolved they have now also been upset by a lack of adequate customer service.

Customers may be wary of sharing their personal information with chatbots as there is no transparency as to how data privacy is dealt with.

It may be necessary to build various versions of chatbots depending on the channel being used. For example, web browsers will support forms, WhatsApp does not.

How to overcome chatbot service design challenges

The good news is it is possible to overcome these design challenges for customer service chatbots by starting from the best base possible and bearing them in mind from the outset.

Customers want to be understood and have their needs met in the simplest, quickest way possible. The service design process, when implemented properly, will ensure that the chatbot quickly understands the issue and can deal with it in the most appropriate manner. Properly designed chatbots give customers the reassurance, responses, and service they need, whilst always making it easy for them to exit should they need to.  One of the key tools Service Designers use to get this right, is Customer Journey Mapping; it enables you to identify the makers and breakers of the experience and understand the ideal touchpoints to include a chat-bot.  It’s essential to avoid including one at a point in the customer journey where human contact is needed – you should understand where the chat bot replaces humans and the importance of that stage in the customer journey, so you can design and map the journey accordingly.

Our service design process helps you reimagine the future, unlock new value and make change happen. Make sure your customer service is better than the competition’s: book time with one of our service design experts today.

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