Customer Service

Customer experience training with Virtual Reality

Photo of the checkouts at a busy grocery store

Why do customers choose your brand? 

More importantly, what makes them keep choosing you?

In today’s world of infinite choices, your company – and every other company – is now in the customer experience business.

There are so many tools and strategies for elevating the customer experience. But over and over again, people make the biggest difference. And fostering a culture of customer-centricity begins with highly engaged, proficient, and confident employees. 

This comes from more than reading the employee handbook or memorizing core values, and goes beyond the theoretical knowledge from a training video. Creating a culture of customer-centricity is all about behavior, attitude, and frame of mind.

Bersin LD Disrupt
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Josh Bersin, global L&D analyst, discusses the insights into human behavior we can capture with Virtual Reality training.

Meanwhile, culture is only half the battle; there are so many skills that an employee needs to learn. Tactical skills like in-store operations, as well as soft skills like empathy go a long way in contributing to the team and the customer experience. 

When you consider the turnover rate in most customer-facing roles, sometimes it’s easier to focus on the employees that have “it,” and let those that don’t just walk away. 

What if you could create a customer-first culture by allowing your employees to walk in the customer’s shoes? This could help them truly elevate the customer experience.

This blog explores the latest and most effective way to provide customer experience training: Immersive Learning. Combining the presence of Virtual Reality with advanced learning theory, data science, and spatial design, Immersive Learning has become an integral training asset for culture-building at Fortune 500 leaders like Walmart, Verizon, and Fidelity.

Let’s examine a few of the ways companies have improved the customer experience through Immersive Learning.

Improving operational efficiency 

The first example is customer experience training for associates on in-store processes and how to identify and assist a customer that needs help. VR training modules are shot using 360-degree cameras for complete immersion. So in VR, learners are placed in an aisle of an actual store, with a real customer in front of them, aisle markers above, and rows of shelves all around. 

Scientific studies of the brain show it treats VR experiences like it would real-life, so associates feel like they’re really there.

Learners practice everything from greeting customers to learning new processes in the stores. If associates know their jobs well operationally, they perform better and are more confident on the job. 

Webinar: Transforming employee journey at Walmart

For example, Walmart associates are taught about how to use and manage customer Pickup Towers, an in-store technology where customers can pick up their online orders. Traditionally, Pickup Tower launch coaches were traveling to each location and conducting day-long training sessions comprised of eLearning, hands-on practice, and launch kit training. 

A tall orange pickup point in a Walmart store

With Immersive Learning, Pickup Tower training time was reduced from eight hours – a full day – to approximately 15 minutes in Virtual Reality. In addition, Immersive Learning has eliminated the need for launch coaches to travel to store sites, saving significant costs.

Practicing situational awareness 

Another skill learners can practice in VR is situational awareness, an important element of in-store customer experience. While employee interactions often get a lot of attention (for good reason), a clean and tidy store or work area has a significant impact on customer experience, too.

In Immersive Learning, learners examine 360-degree environments and must practice identifying out of place items, spills, and other hazards that may impact how customers feel about the brand. This approach to customer experience training allows employees to practice over and over again to improve their proficiency. The beauty is that you never have to shut down operations or create actual spills and hazards in order to train associates and allow them to practice. 

VR eye tracking hot spots in a grocery store
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Walmart’s VP of US Learning shares how associates are gaining new levels of proficiency and confidence thanks to Immersive Learning.

Teaching empathy

Other experiences help associates develop empathy for the customer. 

In one particular module, learners are immersed in an experience where they are at the register, and a customer and his son struggle to pay for the few items they need.

Then, the module goes a step further: in the headset, learners “become” the customer and listen in on a conversation he had with his wife just a few minutes earlier. She is dealing with a sick baby at home, their son is late for a game, and their bank card is maxed out.

Associates truly walk in the shoes of this customer.

Father and son at a Wal-Mart checkout with the boy counting the money to pay.

VR helps teach empathy in a much more engaging and impactful way. In addition, Immersive Learning also layers in important operational information about where items are and how to help customers. Because the learner is fully engaged, they retain the tactical information and develop empathy.

ebook: building soft skills in the workplace

All in all, associates are more confident working with customers in need than they may have been otherwise. 

Building empathy in call center agents

Many organizations rely on call center agents to assist the most frustrated customers. Customer experience training in VR helps them provide better, more empathetic service on the phone or chat.

One organization was able to improve CSAT by 10% over the course of a few months by introducing empathy training in VR. 

In the experience, call center agents are transported back and forth between their virtual desk and the caller’s home environment, where they deal with difficulties like taking care of elderly parents or trouble understanding company policies due to language barriers. Throughout the experience and conversation, learners are asked a series of questions about how to handle the situation according to company best practices, reinforcing how the company wants agents to interact with their customers.

Over and over again, we’ve found that people make the biggest difference. By training employees with VR, you can transform corporate learning at your organization while empowering and preparing your workforce to truly elevate the customer experience.

Next steps: Watch 10-min webinar on elevating customer experience

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