WE MUST SERVE THE AVATAR!
In the future, a child’s imaginary friend will no longer fade and disappear with maturity. No, rather, that figment of our imagination will morph into the virtual personage, becoming the avatar that does our shopping, takes our classes, and hunts for a suitable mate online. And those avatars will also expect exemplary customer experiences. Our imaginary friends from childhood may simply become our virtual life partners.
Those of us who dedicate our efforts to the customer experience can no longer ignore the virtual elephant in the room. Our customer’s avatars have come to expect the same level of service as their “real” counterparts. One thing I’ve already learned about this science; the avatar is a real hambone that needs lots of attention.
It’s been my good fortune to be a member of the same chain of health clubs for over thirty years. In that time, each generation has brought their own spin to the strut-sweat-and-flex routine without too much deviation. Until recently.
A new component of a young man’s workout ritual is firmly entrenched into the gym-culture. I’ve named this dedicatedly earnest exercise the “pose-and-publish.” It’s an astonishing generational development where, at the end of one’s workout, selfies are taken in the mirror to record physical progress and then globally published for world consumption. This behavior is taken very seriously and usually requires the mastering of a sultry, pouty look while flexing.
This action is often followed-up in the sauna where their “followers” are gifted with live flex-chat while they talk about themselves and what they’re going to eat next. Doing something and then not sharing it on social media would be a wasted effort. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody tweets about it, did it really happen?
We need to realize that offering the ultimate in customer experiences will require, simultaneously, serving the customer’s virtual lives as well as their real ones. The client’s avatar must now be considered an integral part of the brand-relationship and, as such, a member of the family to be served and indulged.
So how do we exceed the expectations of these new, virtual customers and gain their loyalty?
We facilitate their existence. We make them part of the experience. The leading brands in customer service will be those understanding they must become partners in personal publishing. When my avatar virtually purchases tickets to the latest superhero movie I’ll expect to see Chris Evans flying my CGI presence on his back through the world of Facebook as a personal “thank you.”
For decades companies like Disney have used a matrix of values to guide the customer experience. Each moment delivered through a focused lens of safety, courtesy, showmanship, and efficiency, in that order. Will these be the same guiding principles utilized to serve the avatar? I believe the answer is yes.
Be careful. Deliver a bad customer experience and my social media imprint might come over and chew you out so I don’t have to do it in person. Want to sell me a car? Talk to the avatar first! Want me to buy a new suit from your virtual department store? How would it look on my digital alter-ego? Well, show me!
For years I’ve been telling my clients, “There’s no business BUT show business.” Perhaps I’ll have to change that to, “ALL companies are in the personal publishing business.”
(Louie Gravance is a humorous speaker, writer, and customer experience expert, formerly with the Disney Institute. He’s been referred to as “the guy who can make the Disney-thing work outside of Disney.”)
Kevin Bugielski is the Marketing Manager for Victory Lap, a purpose-driven startup changing the sales game. Avid Snapchatter, SoulCycle lover, newfound runner, but ultimately, a foodie.