Why We’ll Evolve From Zero Interface To Enhanced Interface

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In the past few years I wrote quite a lot about effortless customer interfaces. I still strongly believe that if you want to be successful as a company, you need to go for a zero customer effort in every phase of the customer journey.

And if you look back to the past decade, this is exactly how companies Uber, Airbnb, Domino’s and Amazon became a big hit because they simply excelled in customer convenience. Think of the Amazon Go stores, where you can just walk in and out with your products. Or Domino’s Zero-Click Ordering App, which relies on the consumer’s personalised profile to place an order without requiring a single click.

A new phase

But I also believe that we are evolving towards a world where this ultimate, zero effort convenience has become a commodity. Customers of today believe that offering ultra-convenient services is the most normal thing in the world. It’s like a “basic” need, not a differentiator. And that means that if you are not convenient enough, you will lose customers to the competition which has invested in the matter.

That means that we’re entering a brand new phase. What we are going to experience in the next 10 years is an evolution from effortless interfaces to enhanced interfaces.

When you think about Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse and all the opportunities that he sees there, it’s very clear that the next step will be convenience plus entertainment. And convenience plus digital reality and three dimensional opportunities. Think about all the new forms of entertainment that will grow out of this intersection. Think about all the new ways of holding business meetings. In all of these aspects and more – shopping, networking, learning – the metaverse will push us to develop a completely new, immersive and spatial way of thinking. Where effortless services are the most normal thing in the world and where making the entire package enhanced and cool will be the actual differentiator.

A real world metaverse

You probably know that I’m a huge Disney fan. So when they recently announced that they filed for some patents related to metaverse technology and are getting together a dedicated metaverse team of senior employees, I got really excited. They announced that they want to add a third dimension to their storytelling and believe that that is the next great horizon for Disney, and for entertainment in general. What’s special about Disney’s patent for “virtual-world simulator in a real-world venue” is that it’s not the VR-google experience that most people associate with the metaverse. It’s more of an augmented reality (AR) type of approach, but even there it is slightly different.

With AR tech, computer-generated images appear through a device, be it a smartphone or a pair of augmented glasses. Instead, Disney developed a system almost similar to a movie projector, to project images on a real surface. The result is that it offers an experience that feels a lot more real, more tangible than looking at it through a screen. Also, there’s no need for a virtual reality headset, augmented reality glasses or those types of goggles which is also always an asset in pandemic times (and more practical and more affordable).

Disney really dreams about creating theme parks where you can just add digital experiences to everything that you see and hear. Just think about how they could change Disney world, if it’s populated with all kinds of digital, but very real looking characters. If kids could meet Mickey digitally so that they don’t have to wait in line to take a picture with the physical version. Think about how that could really reinvent waiting lines, which is one of the last points of friction that Disney still needs to solve. Just imagine how the metaverse could change the experience of having to wait 30 minutes or even an hour for a ride.

I truly believe that this is going to be the next phase of interfaces, where we are really going to reinvent the entire experience for the customer: moving beyond convenience towards enhancement.

* Steven Van Belleghem is a global thought leader in Customer Experience, International Keynote Speaker, Author and an Entrepreneur.

Visit his blog: https://www.stevenvanbelleghem.com