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Financial institutions always need to be one step ahead. With technological advances changing the ways customers send, receive, invest and save money, and with more tech-savvy generations entering the workforce, banks have a huge opportunity to garner new long-term customers and continue delighting their existing ones. As the metaverse continues shifting from a concept to reality, I believe we’re bound to see some of the greatest changes to the banking customer experience yet.
The metaverse refers to a network of virtual, augmented and digital realities focused on social connection. Associated with the metaverse is a multitude of customer touchpoints. As users engage in virtual spaces, such as through VR and AR technologies, businesses have many new and inventive ways to meet these customers where they’re at across digital channels.
Banks looking to enhance the customer experience should be paying attention now so they can provide highly customized, memorable experiences to their prospective and existing customers in the metaverse. Here are some opportunities you can take advantage of.
1. Personalizing The Banking Experience In The Metaverse
The metaverse opens up endless opportunities for financial institutions to customize the banking experience to individual customers, especially as AR and VR are poised to become regular channels for banks in the coming decade. Depending on a customer’s preferences, access needs and habits, banks can use AR and VR technologies to adjust how they interact with customers and how they relay critical financial information.
Say, for instance, a customer who has not previously invested with your bank wants to know their investment options. Using a VR headset, the customer might “walk” into a virtual branch and speak to a virtual investment banker. Their account balances could be displayed, and based on their priorities, they may be able to scroll through different investment options while investment calculators provide real-time projections of possible earnings.
For customers who prefer to conduct banking in the “real” world, the metaverse still offers opportunities to enhance the customer experience. Banks may leverage AR to display account balances on a customer’s phone as they approach an ATM, or tailor their financial advice based on the customer’s geolocation.
2. Gathering User Data In The Metaverse
New virtual environments mean new opportunities to gather customer data. As customers engage with more aspects of the metaverse through entertainment, games, marketplaces and so on, financial institutions will have more opportunities to track customer preferences and interactions. Following the trends in big data over the past decade, banks could use this information to customize their products and services further.
Returning to the example of the customer who is newly looking to invest, your bank could take note of not only their spending habits but also their social priorities and values. If the customer has previously shown interest in sustainable products, you could refer them to a specific virtual platform focused on green investments. Within these virtual realities, banks have the chance to make these environments much more inviting, cohesive and personalized to the customer than ever before.
3. Building Virtual Community And Educating Your Customers In The Metaverse
In a saturated market, customers need a reason to choose one financial institution over another. For some customers, a sense of community is key to maintaining this loyalty. Banks looking to take advantage of the ample virtual real estate in the metaverse should keep this in mind. Creating virtual community spaces where customers can exchange advice, attend virtual events and develop a sense of community are all ways you can take advantage of the metaverse to provide connective experiences to your customers. The metaverse can also be leveraged to help customers become more financially literate, for example, by creating environments for customers to practice trading or investing before using their own money.
With endless ways to create virtual environments in the metaverse, even the largest financial institutions can provide intimate and warm services that might be more readily associated in the physical world with local credit unions.
4. Bringing Loyalty Programs Into The Metaverse
The metaverse will undoubtedly become another channel for loyalty marketing. This is already happening in other industries, with companies such as Starbucks offering loyalty programs in the metaverse where members can buy collectible digital stamps (in the form of NFTs) that unlock specific benefits and perks. Banks could similarly gamify aspects of the banking experience and offer rewards to their customers (for example, granting a token to reward the completion of financial tasks such as budgeting, achieving savings goals and so on). In exchange, loyal customers could receive a range of perks and value-adds, including reduced transaction fees or exclusive financial advisory services.
With each great opportunity comes some associated risk.
Of course, all new channels and platforms come with associated risks. As with previous advances in e-commerce, banks should ensure their cyber security is best-in-class. Unfortunately, a larger digital presence could also mean a greater attack surface, and there will always be bad actors looking to take advantage. As the metaverse becomes widespread, banks should also ensure they’re complying with up-to-date privacy regulations and data laws across all the countries in which they operate. Another key consideration for banks is brand consistency. With customers accessing services through a handful of new and different channels, banks should prioritize an omnichannel strategy that creates brand cohesion no matter the customer touchpoint.
It’s impossible to say exactly how the metaverse will evolve and how banks will evolve alongside it. But as virtual interactions become more common, banks have an excellent opportunity to define a new standard for customer experiences in the metaverse. Those who start now can benefit in the short and long term.
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