Applying Virtual Reality for Empathy Training

By Adam Schouela

With any emerging technology, there are questions at its onset:

  • Will people like it?
  • Will they find it useful and effective?
  • Will there be an appetite for greater adoption?

Virtual reality is no different and just beginning to find its foothold across multiple industries and functions, including gaming, live events, real estate, training and education. Within the training and education space, virtual reality provides an immersive environment that we have applied for use by our contact center associates. VR enables us to take our associates to places they otherwise would not be able to go – inside the customer’s personal space. The hope is that they get a better understanding of their customers so they can provide the best possible customer service.

Fidelity is now well into its VR development and is using VR to train associates on client interactions. The trainees that have experienced VR training have been very positive in their assessment of the experience, offering feedback such as:

“I felt like it was really good to see the client on the other side of the call in the virtual reality. I think it was really helpful and opened my mind up about how to handle calls.”

“I like the VR training. It gives us a better feeling for what the customers sees or thinks. It is good to have it to mix up the training regimen and have variety.”

“It was a great experience. I hope Fidelity implements more training ideas like this one to help us perform better.”

Fidelity’s mission is to create the best possible experiences for our customers, and VR is capable of putting the trainees into a customer’s living space as they deal with authentic scenarios. While Fidelity has acquired a wealth of knowledge regarding the production process from vetting use cases through development to deployment, perhaps the most significant takeaway is that while the work is difficult, it is worth it. How to create an impactful VR training experience is a challenging problem to solve, one the Fidelity team is dedicated to mastering as it looks toward the next phase of growth.

Guiding the team as it develops its modules are design principles that are emerging in conjunction with the technology itself: namely, that a VR experience should appeal to a wide audience. VR, triggers an emotional response that is authentic. Across the VR training spectrum, the term “productive failure” is gaining popularity as organizations and trainees recognize the value of learning from mistakes in a scenario in which failure could have serious consequences. New-hire trainees need to be prepared to have difficult – and at times, highly emotional – discussions with customers who are facing challenging circumstances and looking to Fidelity for help.