Customer experience centers tap directly into the beating heart of the experience economy. Companies use them as a way for customers to experience first-hand what a product or service is all about. Experience centers are meant to engage audiences fully while leaving them inspired and ready to act, or even better; ready to buy.
It’s becoming clear that people are starting to value unique experiences over consumption. Research such as the 2017 Freeman Global Brand Experience Study, shows that customers are willing to respond to and engage via immersive experiences.
As digital storytelling grows in importance, immersive experiences are essential to create stronger customer ties and drive overall business value. Still, a lot of digital marketers don’t fully embrace the positive impact of immersive experiences. Leaving a lot of companies with an unfilled opportunity gap to elevate their brand marketing.
A question all marketers should ask themselves is: How can I use immersive experiences to tell my brand's story? One very effective way is via the use of a Customer Experience Center.
A research report by Nesta and i2 Media Research concluded that immersive experiences provide positive social, cultural, and psychological impacts. It also showed that weeks after the experience, almost 100% of the participants' memories continued to match their first direct experience with the content.
It seems that immersive technologies aren’t just changing how we connect with brands and businesses; they have the power to transform us at the same time.
If you’re in the business of selling stuff to people you can benefit from having an experience center. Regardless of the product or service you’re offering. We’ve seen that experience centers are equally effective in promoting products as well as services. When done well, experience centers allow you to shorten sales cycles, increase deal sizes, improve customer relations and streamline important processes.
By taking your audience on an intense and customized visual journey, they’ll not just remember your brand: you’ll leave them with a memorable experience. An experience that creates a long-lasting positive connection to your brand. To enhance the power of your brand with an experience center, it’s important you choose the right type of experience center for your company and for your customers.
"If you’re in the business of selling stuff to people you can benefit from having an experience center. Regardless of the product or service you’re offering."
The way to go when choosing your brand experience center.
There are different strategies you can apply when it comes to creating an experience center or any type of digital immersive center. From mesmerizing virtual worlds to interactive design tools, to immersive training environments: VR and AR technologies open the door to new ways of visualizing your brand story.
Choosing the right digital experience is important because this allows you to communicate your message most effectively.
Now, you might think that brand experience centers are reserved for brands playing in the major league, such as Nike or Heineken. This is far from true. The use of experience centers can be beneficial for both bigger and smaller brands. However, there are differences in how the centers are designed, built and deployed.
Here are some of the most important types of Customer Experience Centers we distinguish:
1. A permanent center for your customers and community.
As we mentioned before, people choose what to purchase based on experience. A permanent experience center on location allows you to connect with your customers on a deeper level. A well-designed experience center fosters two-way communication and collaboration thereby deepening trust and customer loyalty. It’s also a great way to educate, showcase, and bring different stakeholders together in an inspiring space.
Adding a permanent experience center to your marketing portfolio, allows you to move away from focusing on transactions. Immersive experience centers exist not solely to sell a service or product. They exist to offer customers a unique experience and lasting memory.
The Mini brand store and the Heineken Experience Center are great examples of brands that know that it’s not just a product - but the experience of a brand- that eventually leads to more sales.
Experience centers aren’t just customer focused. They can also be employee focused. It’s a great tool for companies that want to educate, inspire, and strengthen their brand community among employees. The Move Mobility Experience, an initiative of Pon, is a perfect example of an experience center that educates, informs and entertains by showcasing interactive exhibitions on the development of mobility.
"Experience centers aren’t just customer focused. They can also be employee focused. It’s a great tool for companies that want to educate, inspire, and strengthen their brand community among employees."
2. A mobile center for sales.
The advantage of a mobile experience center for sales is, of course, flexibility. You can create any type of immersive experience anywhere - meeting the needs, and exceeding the expectations, of your customer every time. This can come in really handy when the product you’re selling isn’t something you can touch, such as software.
SAP is a great example of a large software company that embraces innovation and has put it on wheels.
One of their very successful sales strategies is centered around their mobile 'Intelligent Enterprise Truck'. They use it to showcase products and innovations to their customers on-site, allowing them to experience the impact first-hand.
Another great example, is the way PFM Intelligence Group is presenting their products and services with ‘The Suited Truckdriver’.
If you turn your immersive experience into a mobile experience you can reach a larger audience more easily. Another added benefit, delivering the experience on people’s doorstep makes them feel special. Leaving stakeholders impressed and relationships strengthened.
3. An immersive pop-up experience center at events.
An immersive experience at a conference or event to present or introduce your brand can help you stand out of the crowd. It can be the key element in making a true difference. Think about any conference you’ve ever been to - usually, after a few hours of wandering around everything starts to look the same.
By bringing your immersive experience to an event you can count on lots of engagement from potential customers who’ll leave with a positive and memorable experience related to your brand.
Takeaway.com did a great job with a giant version of their well-known orange delivery bag at Horecava Amsterdam. By offering customers the Takeaway.com experience on the spot, they allowed people to develop more confidence in the brand.
This is just an example of the many ways you can use immersive technologies at large conferences to truly engage with your customers. Immersive technologies such as AR an VR are also perfect ways to get your customers away from the event buzz and draw them into a world relevant to your brand or product.
4. Immersive experiences for virtual events and online sessions.
Because of COVID-19, the need for virtual events and online sessions is at an all-time high. Trying to run business as usual during the global pandemic has been challenging for many, but new digital tools have also created new opportunities to reach your audience online.
When it comes to creating online experiences, you need to get creative. Belgium festival Tomorrowland shows how it’s done right and took digital storytelling to the next level with their very first digital edition of the festival in 2020.
With this online event, the festival invited people from around the world to experience the most magical moments of a two-day digital event with eight stages and over 60 artists. More than 1 million people successfully tuned in.
Compared to the 400,000 offline visitors in 2019 this is considered a major success.
Software company SAP managed to turn their SAPPHIRE NOW event into a successful, entirely digital, experience by inviting its visitors to gather in a digital environment. SAPPHIRE NOW Reimagined has enabled its customers to engage with experts and each other to share ideas and knowledge during a time when face-to-face meetings are not possible. Instead of hosting the digital event as a one-off online event, they decided to make its programming ongoing with new content added throughout 2020 and beyond.
This way, they continue to feature robust digital experiences, which bring meaningful insights, guidance, vision, and direction to their community.
Adding emotional currency to your brand.
When it comes to telling your brand story, the use of experience centers will add ‘emotional currency’ which is crucial for building confidence in your brand, and will lead you closer to creating brand advocates. One-to-one marketing strategies foster individual relationships with customers through storytelling, where brand experience centers take that a step further.
Brand experience centers give you a chance to create immersive, authentic and personalized interactions and seamlessly segue between your audience’s digital and physical lives.
As we explained four different ways of deploying an experience center you might feel inspired to start designing your own. Great! But where to begin?
The journey from storytelling to story-making into digital and live brand experiences begins with a clear strategy. So it can end in an experience center most fitting and beneficial for your business. In our next blog, we will tell you more about what to think of when building your experience center.
Do you want to know more about how the use of an experience center can benefit your business? Get in touch with us. We are more than happy to show you the different ways and discuss the best strategy for your business in an exploratory conversation.