VR now a part of ‘Empathy Training’

Virtual reality (VR) training company STRIVR has already made its mark with the immersive teaching systems which are being used by the NFL, NCAA, NBA and NHL for their athletes. But it’s not just the sports that interests STRIVR, as it is also using its expertise to help major companies like Wal-Mart, United Rentals and now Fidelity to train employees on customer service, management, and empathy.

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Fidelity, a financial service company is using virtual reality to transport staff into the homes of fictional customers so that they can see the impact of their responses to queries both during and after a simulated telephone call. Fidelity Labs, the company’s innovation arm, used the Google Daydream headset and worked with STRIVR to offer call center employees empathy training. According to a blog post from Adam Schouela, vice president of product management and emerging technology at Fidelity Labs, Fidelity is the first financial services company to use the Google technology in this way.

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Described as a “choose-your-own-adventure experience,” the prototype training simulates a customer call, transporting an employee inside the home of the caller, and allowing them to glimpse into the customer’s situation. Adam Schouela’s blog further explains, “The training is a choose-your-own-adventure experience, bringing the trainee into a virtual call center to help understand the impact of listening and helping the Fidelity customer through real-life scenarios. Throughout the training, the Fidelity employee is “transported” between the call center and the customer’s living room to view the environment, facial expressions and personal perspective.” In one case, this meant seeing a stack of medical bills, a pair of crutches in the background, and one frustrated customer. The employee is then presented with a series of options of what to do next and applies what he learned about this customer’s situation to guide her through the transaction. The employee can further observe what follows the phone call and its immediate impact on the customer.

This type of VR training is undoubtedly useful in all types of situations where companies have to deal with customers remotely. As Schouela says, “Nothing beats real experience when talking with investors, but being exposed to specific scenarios in a virtual environment, may help prepare new employees for various situations. The feedback has inspired us to keep working and refine the different types of empathy-building moments that make this sort of training so powerful.”

Well, all we can say for now is that this announcement definitely shows a different way, businesses can view and use VR as a tool rather than a gaming offshoot.

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