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5 takeaways from MGM: Customer experience training amid the Great Resignation

Case studies
Customer experience
min read
MGM Resorts CHRO Laura Lee standing against a mirrored wall holding a VR headset

At its core, the hospitality industry is centered on customer service. It is the key to success, and customer interaction training is a critical part of the hospitality world for both new and existing employees.

In this new era of uncertainty around shifting health and safety mandates as well as challenges served up with the Great Resignation, there is an opportunity for hospitality organizations to make significant upgrades to the employee experience through VR training. Many companies have seen that VR can help attract more applicants, retain current employees, and deliver a great experience for customers.

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It’s a great time for organizations to reflect and think about what they can do differently now to create a better onboarding and training experience for current employees and future applicants.
Laura Lee
Chief Human Resources Officer, MGM Resorts

MGM Resorts International’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Laura Lee, talked with Strivr founder and CEO Derek Belch to share how her organization is deploying VR for customer interaction training. Here are five key takeaways that Laura shared during their conversation.

01. Your customer interaction training must be tied to your overall business strategy

At MGM, guest-centricity is core to the leadership’s priorities. Since the public has a lot of choices in hospitality, the key differentiator for their organization becomes the customer service they provide. Laura explains that how you train employees—especially on a mission-critical area like customer service—needs to tie back to the bigger picture.

Laura points out that no one comes into work wanting to do a bad job. But employees need effective learning opportunities and support in order to perform at their best. “My job is to support employees and give them the tools they need to be more self-confident.”

Previously, employee training was done in person. The Covid-19 pandemic changed that, where more training was happening virtually. And moving forward, the team is focusing on building a more hybrid experience that involves both traditional learning and VR experiences.

Instead of using the traditional processes, hospitality organizations can use Virtual Reality to create immersive learning programs.

  • Provides real-world behavioral changes that encourage employees to adhere to customer service expectations
  • Engages learners physically for higher impact and retention while bridging cultural, and language barriers
  • Enables repetition of on-demand to on routine tasks like directing customers to various areas of the resort
  • Provides safe access to risky, hard to replicate scenarios like de-escalating a situation with an unhappy customer
  • Delivers unique actionable data and insights to ensure that the customer interaction training is effective
  • Creates unified standards for customer service

All of these changes tie back to the overarching goal of excellence in customer service. It is the driving force behind all of the decisions the team makes with their immersive learning program.

02. Enhanced soft skills are crucial for this new era of customer interaction

There are no “do-overs” in customer service. A mistake in front of a customer can have severe consequences for employees. This led Laura and her team to partner with Strivr to build an immersive learning program that allows employees to fail without consequence.

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With VR we’re able to give our employees the opportunity to do empathy training without the pressure of real customer interactions. VR gives employees the opportunity to think and correct themselves without getting stressed or worried that they did something wrong.
Laura Lee
Chief Human Resources Officer, MGM Resorts

Empathy training can incorporate real-world scenarios that employees may encounter in their day-to-day work. Using VR for empathy training can:

  • Encourage intended behaviors for accessing a situation and following appropriate procedures
  • Give employees the skills they need to de-escalate challenging situations
  • Prepare them with responses that maintain a safe and stress-free environment to serve customers best.

03. Start small & scale-up

All employees in the organization need to be trained in guest services. So, with that in mind, Laura and her team are developing a training program that both current employees and new hires can use. This was especially important when their resorts first opened up after being shut down due to the pandemic. Not only were they hiring more new employees, but many of their returning employees needed a refresher on general processes and policies.

With this standardized training in place, Laura and her team can measure its effectiveness across the whole organization and scale the program with more job-specific training.

04. Look for opportunities to regularly ask for feedback

Feedback plays a valuable role in building an immersive learning program for customer service. How can you or your employees know if the training is working unless there are channels for sharing feedback?

Since training is an ongoing thing; not just when you are first hired, there are many opportunities to review training programs and gather feedback from employees. Laura’s team is gathering feedback on their training program by:

  • Monitoring guest service scores to evaluate the effectiveness of their program
  • Conducting focus groups to gather employees’ thoughts and impressions on the training
  • Reviewing the insights they are gathering from multiple sources to improve and assess the training program over time

The work Laura’s team is putting into getting a 360° view of their training program is a key part of how they are building an effective customer interaction training program for today and into the future.

05. Build a customer interaction training program for the long-term

Developing the VR content for your immersive learning program takes time and resources. So you want to make sure that the content you are creating will be valuable today, tomorrow, and into the future. Laura and her team recognized that guest services standards are unlikely to change any time soon at their organization, making them the perfect topic for VR content.

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It’s so important to make sure the content is as timeless as possible. It not only keeps it relevant and consistent across all of our resorts, but it is a much more budget-friendly solution.
Laura Lee
Chief Human Resources Officer, MGM Resorts

Still in research mode? For a deep dive into how VR-based immersive learning is enhancing customer experience, download our free ebook: Enhanced customer experience: VR training for the frontline employee.

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