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The New Realities of Customer Experience

In an age of social distancing & remote work

(7 Minute Read)

Customer experience initiatives take on many forms. How will physical spaces like Customer Experience Centers (CXCs) need to evolve and what human factors will be taken into consideration in order to maintain a safe environment? Great investments have been made in physical in-person engagement throughout the years. What happens when your guests cannot (or will not) visit in-person due to the global pandemic?

Audiences will expect to engage in new ways. Your strategy for this will be different moving forward.

Navigating uncharted territory and embracing uncertainty are the driving forces here at 900lbs. As your trusted partners (and uber-technical tribe of nerds), we strive to bring you results through custom-tailored technology-driven solutions to your innovation objectives and business challenges.

These are times of great change and everyone is feeling the sense of urgency. Your teams may have recently become more lean and the pressure to invest in the right solutions that drive results is imperative. Reaching your customers in a unique way and telling your company’s story still remains among your highest of priorities.

The 900lbs team has outlined some of our intentional design research and precautionary best practice ideas to keep you informed of the newest approaches to reimagine your customer experience:

  1. ONSITE CXC SAFETY & ENHANCEMENTS: How could you reopen an existing space with added layers of safety measures to minimize health risks? What are new and innovative ways for guests to avoid touch surfaces in physical spaces? 
  1. REMOTE CONTENT & DIGITAL EQUIVALENTS: What are potential alternatives to virtually transport guests to your experience while maintaining emotional engagement? How can these new remote applications measure analytics in a different way? 

This is the new reality and you must think differently.

ONSITE CXC SAFETY & ENHANCEMENTS

Designing for Social Distancing. 

“Space programming” through a real-time design tool may be essential for the layout of your space. What would your space look like now, if everyone has to be six feet from each other? What if you could adjust furniture through 3D model integration and users could annotate in real-time, collaboratively? 

Two years ago, our team designed a larger office for scale. We invested in the development of our own augmented reality tool to make planning more efficient and to help us understand how light would change the environment during different times of day. We had the ability to drag and drop furniture and change room sizes. Being able to visualize the space gave us the flexibility to rethink areas of need and it made the whole process faster. We would love to demo this live collaboration tool for you. 

As of late last year, we’ve also been developing a visualization tool geared towards the Convention & Visitors Bureaus (CVB’s). This tool allows Meeting Planners and Organizers to see all that the CVBs offer for hosting your Meetings & Conventions, including viewing nearby attractions, amenities, hotels, and more. Within the tool users can select meeting spaces and configure space planning layouts based on the desired setup and number of attendees, visualizing how your specific event could be set up to meet your event requirements. This tool can now be leveraged to provide recommended event setup options that consider safety and social distancing measures.

Access Granted. 

Six Flags is reopening and they will be implementing thermal imaging technology at the entrance. This scanning will take guests’ and employees’ temperatures as they enter the park. Some restaurants are exercising this method of safety as well. Will this become the new norm? Could you customize the scanner to reflect your company’s branding? We have not experimented with this technology yet. However, one of our partners (www.LMGSI.net), is now offering scanners like this as a part of their services: https://www.soteriascan.net/

Peace of Mind. 

A drastic measure could be to replace the glass on touchscreens with antimicrobial glass designed to slow (but not stop) germs. This may not be practical. Guests could interact with touchscreens using gloves or they could put stickers on their fingertips. Styluses could also be an option, as well as fully-branded Kooty Keys. (yes, your keychain just got little cooler). Installing a hands-free sanitation dispenser could be an easy way to help keep your guests feel safer upon entry. The sensor-based Umbra Otto Automatic Touchless Dispenser has a really innovative design. This automated “station” would not require constant staff monitoring and could help ambassadors stay focused on the story and the client journey. 

A Ray of Hope. 

Broad spectrum UV light has been used to sterilize surgical equipment and now it is a leading driver for contact-less sanitation. Autonomous robots carrying powerful UV lamps have already been used in Wuhan, China to combat COVID-19. Imagine if you could switch your entire environment to UV mode at night to thoroughly sanitize during downtime?

Note: While we work in a technical lab, we are definitely not medical virologists or front-line nurses. They are the superheroes. We do know that certain forms of UV light can be harmful to humans if exposed for too long (eg. tanning beds). However, “Far-UVC” light research has proven to be safe for human exposure. This article from Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News details the benefits of UV light against germs and bacteria. Assessments are recommended in order to ensure that this is safe for your space.

The most Familiar Tool. 

What if a drastic reimagining of all of the touch surfaces in your existing space needed to happen? For total touch-less interaction, what if the current user experience of the content on your interactive touch interfaces and LED screens could be powered by your guest’s mobile device? Imagine a “choose your own adventure” scenario where your customer taps their phone to control the content and navigate through the story-driven, interactive content. While the average person checks their phone approximately 52 times per day, using humankind’s most used tool would be much more comfortable than your screens. Guests wouldn’t have to touch a single thing! You could give away a PhoneSoap sanitization changing case as a takeaway gift or door prize.

Motion-controlled Content.

In future Customer Experience Centers and other in-person physical spaces like museums or science centers, designers might consider more of a focus on “motion-controlled” interactions. A user’s full body movement (or just arms and hands) can become the controller as you stand in front of a screen. Your body is tracked by depth-sensing cameras measuring your position at 30 frames per second. See how 900lbs utilized this technology to create a massive 30’ wide interactive wall helping children learn about the environment, animals in the surrounding ecosystem and recycling all through body movement.

Speaking of…

Our daily lives have been transformed by the power of hands-free auditory commands in our homes and on our mobile devices. Voice recognition to input technology has continued to evolve at a rapid pace. 900lbs is currently working with a large global IT infrastructure client to retrofit their existing large-scale CXC touchscreen experience with an Amazon Alexa device. Through our partnership with Amazon AWS, our team has leveraged their AI engine and cloud computing services. Guests will soon command their way through the immersive content, all from a safe distance. 

REMOTE CONTENT & DIGITAL EQUIVALENTS:

The Digital Twin. 

Moving forward, “mirrored” online digital experiences will complement the physical space design of the onsite Customer Experience. This digital application enables us to provide even more predictive analytics with KPIs and informed problem solving. Having a one-to-one digital version gives us the ability to take the content you already have and optimize it in many more ways, maximizing ROI. We could more effectively measure your guest’s engagement level, emotional feedback, dwell time, feature navigation, etc. This Digital Twin would reduce travel time and cost with the ability to reach a broader audience by simply sending a link. Internal sharing may enable more efficient peer feedback or buy-in from key stakeholders? Remote training and collaboration could take different forms as you leverage the tools everyone already has, like laptops and mobile devices.  

Scaling Content through Web Streaming. 

Whether you have a large touch table, theater, projector-mapped wall, hologram or physical museum exhibit, your digital content can be compressed into a “streamable” experience that you can distribute online. Sending a link that your guests can experience from their couch. Your space is more complex than a video on Youtube with varying file types and screen resolutions. 900lbs has developed an innovative way of utilizing the hardware that physical experiences were built on and then streaming that interactive content online, as opposed to rebuilding the experience from scratch.

Remote Collaboration.

900lbs has a relationship with a company called VirBELA who enables next-generation, remote work through a full 3D virtual world. The platform brings all 20,000 of their global employees together into one virtual campus. Coworkers can talk with avatars of their colleagues in meetings, conversate randomly and even play team-building games together. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4sLO9Wbiq8

Problem-Solving Together.

900lbs has been partnering with “The Wild.” This exciting VR platform is a collaboration platform for architects and designers to experience their work together, from anywhere, through augmented reality and virtual reality. The Wild is unique because its tools are cross-platform which means that you don’t have to have a VR headset to experience these collaborative worlds. A user with an iPad can communicate verbally (as if they were on a call) while other users operate through their laptop or through VR at the same time. 

CONCLUSION

These unprecedented times call for unprecedented action. We have found that most organizations and brands are falling into 1 of 3 patterns of response:

  1. Return to Normalcy: Are you hoping that this will all be over soon and we return to normal? 
  2. Imitating Others: Is your strategy an “activity-based” approach that mimics other companies’ actions in an attempt to provide some sense of a recovery from the loss of control? Unfortunately, this is not a solid, sustainable initiative that generates results. 
  3. Pushing Forward: Are you authentically seeking new, innovative solutions to today’s challenges? 

Whether you are planning to reopen your existing customer experience center or design a new space with intentional safety measures, we hope this research helps jumpstart some ideas for you. 900lbs is here for you