VR simulates real-world situations, and the science behind it shows exactly why it’s so effective. Over 20 years of research has found that the technology is great for building visual experiences, including for the business-essential tasks in frontline workers’ jobs. When someone performs an action in VR, it activates the same parts of their brain as does performing the action in the real world.
For Verizon, immersive learning is offering a way to re-create interactions with tier-one business customers, which can be hard to do with traditional learning methods. The company created a VR experience, for example, to help call center employees build de-escalation and empathy skills, with the goal of transforming the customer experience during sensitive, business-critical conversations. “You can’t replicate empathy in a way that would be effective [in a classroom],” says Lou Tedrick, vice president of global learning and development at Verizon. While workers might know how to react when they leave role-play training, she adds, they don’t have the practice needed to turn the knowledge into instinct. Immersive learning, with its learn-by-doing methodology, helps employees build those instincts. The VR experience helps call center employees to understand a customer’s point of view by virtually putting them on the other end of the phone. The experience “humanizes interactions and allows us to understand the customer exactly in the circumstances they are in,” says Tedrick.
When piloting the experience, Verizon compared the results of employees who were trained with VR and those who weren’t, looking at key performance indicators, including net promoter score, customer satisfaction rates, and call resolution. “Overall,” says Tedrick, “the folks who were trained using the VR experience … outperformed their counterparts.” Following the success of the VR pilot, Verizon decided to roll out the training to all of its call centers. “We’re modifying the scenarios to the times and the situations that employees deal with, but we’re using it with every call center organization,” says Tedrick.
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