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W&H Experience Center:
The experience makes the difference
The customer experience is becoming the most important factor in ongoing digitization.
Only those who interact digitally and play on emotions will be able to thrive in today’s market. W&H has achieved just that with the ‘W&H Experience Center’: The virtual platform enables a new form of customer-focused communication which provides the opportunity to interact and network, even in these times of social distancing. W&H customers can take part in a product and brand experience from wherever they are, live and with a real feel.
Extract from Dental Marketing 02/2021
Author: Anja Kruse-Anyaegbu
Interview A. Thallinger
Anita Thallinger is right at the heart of this major digital project. As Director Marketing & Market Service, as well as a customer experience expert, she oversees the virtual brand world and is familiar with every single corner of it. We spoke to her about this special challenge and the significance of the digital experience for the customers.
Ms Thallinger, what did it mean for W&H when it became clear that it would not be possible to interact with customers in person for a long time?
Anita Thallinger: At first, it was hard for us to imagine how it would work. Shortly before, we had just held our Asia Sales Meeting at which we were still making plans for exclusive summer events. And all of a sudden none of our ideas were viable any more. At W&H, we see hospitality as part of our corporate culture and our brand. Suddenly, this important element of our brand identity was missing. It was clear to us that we had to find an entirely new way to stay in personal contact with our customers despite the restrictions.
So, how did the idea of the virtual brand world come about?
Anita Thallinger: The customer is always at the heart of everything we do. The channels were restricted to video calls or chats. However, we know that customers want to experience something and, at the same time, want to have that connection with people. You can never evoke the same emotions with a website or a live chat. So, we needed a platform, similar to a trade fair or our visitor tours at our headquarters, to enable our customers to experience the world of W&H. But it needed to be a new dimension of experience that reflects our innovative capacity at the same time.
What objectives are you pursuing with the new W&H Experience Center?
Anita Thallinger: Our main objective is to make the product portfolio a tangible experience for our customers, retailers and partners. Whenever they want it and wherever they are in the world, all without any jetlag! The aim was also to develop a new format for customer contact. We want to inspire, surprise and take a really innovative approach to below-the-line communication.
We want to help new customers decide what to purchase. Comprehensive information is available to everyone, whether from insiders through our product manager avatars, via video clips or through live chat. There is no limit in terms of connecting to touchpoints here. In a further step, we are also planning to integrate our partners more heavily into the virtual world. So, there are exciting times ahead. We are only at the beginning of this journey.
Could you please briefly explain the concept to us and let us know what visitors can expect from the digital platform?
Anita Thallinger: Our visitors can expect a virtual world without limitations. We have deliberately given the W&H world a futuristic design, with lots of surprising elements and almost 100 videos. Together with jAMAZE, our partner from Amisril in Switzerland who supports us with the virtual brand world, we have chosen the technology of online games and e-sport as a reference. Gamification and information are the main pillars of the Experience Center. As well as avatars that explain our products, there is all sorts of product information and exclusive ‘Behind-The-Scenes Stories’. Promos, events and training are offered according to region. There are also monthly updates in the Experience Center. This represents a huge challenge for the entire W&H Marketing team.
What expectations do you have for the virtual brand world? And how is it possible to generate leads this way?
Anita Thallinger: In order to generate leads, it is important to have an interplay between may different touchpoints. Above all, we rely on our digital channels, cross-media promotion and relevant calls to action. This increases engagement and, ultimately, the conversion rate. In a couple of weeks and months, we will have generated various data and can analyse how well our user journey is working. Optimization is an ongoing concern for us.
Have you had any initial reactions and feedback from the Community?
Anita Thallinger: When you are so heavily involved in a project, you worry that you might sometimes become lost in the details. After the first event for our global partners, the feedback was overwhelming. We weren’t banking on having such a positive response. I would particularly like to thank the team behind the showroom. Our colleagues there have invested so much passion and time, it’s amazing! We can see that end customers have been using it successfully. Our user numbers, length of stay and engagement are constantly growing. Nonetheless, the digital brand world has only just launched.
There is still much to do and we hope that the new platform will also continue to see a high level of acceptance.
Are there already plans for what will happen with the platform in 2022 and beyond?
Anita Thallinger: Right now the virtual world has only been available in English. We aim to have further languages and, of course, local adaptations. We have lots of visions that we want to make a reality, many of which are still difficult to implement from a technical standpoint, but we will find a way. The project team and jAMAZE are doing some truly pioneering work here and have lots of fascinating ideas.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions.
Immerse yourself in W&H’s virtual brand world at wh.com!
There is more on communication and brand management for the dental industry in the German-speaking world at dentalmarketing-magazin.de