While we’re still waiting on the former, a new generation of VR has appeared in recent years with capabilities beyond the novelty of cartoonish video game simulators. Nowadays, VR solutions carry the potential to transform industries, especially with regards to how customers interface with companies and experience products.
The immersive transformation is already underway in a diverse spectrum of sectors as VR affects customer interactions ranging from financial institutions and investors to Omaha Hi-Lo dealers and poker players. Let’s examine a few cases of how VR is used to bolster customer service exchanges and how it may evolve down the road.
Virtual Dawn: Early Adopters
Recently, the department store chain Macy’s announced a VR furniture pilot coming to 60 of its stores. Customers will use a tablet to design a room and experience it in 360-degree 3D as if walking around the room. Furniture options can be swapped out instantly, allowing customers to “try on” as many design possibilities as they please.
The VR room design platform not only provides customers with a highly personalized, interactive experience but also allows Macy’s to offer a broader range of furniture that can be showcased at a retail location. While brick-and-mortar retailers have relied on e-commerce sites to sell expanded inventory beyond that in stores for years, VR takes product showcasing and demonstration to new heights.
In the financial sector, industry titan Fidelity Investments uses VR to train its U.S.-based customer service representatives (CSRs). The objective is to help CSRs better relate to the needs and concerns of customers, a practice known as empathy training.
Fidelity’s training program uses the Google VR headset and transports CSRs to a live customer call scenario. While the CSR is virtually located at the company’s New Hampshire call center, the customer is portrayed at their residence, frustrated and surrounded by bills. Currently, this program is in a pilot phase as Fidelity gauges its effectiveness. VR will become a permanent aspect of Fidelity’s training if proven successful.
The Future of Technical Support
Technical support is often a beleaguered arena of customer service. Naturally, humans seem to be irritated when electronic devices don’t work as expected or fail to function at all. But now imagine a customer is asked during a technical crisis to call a phone number and navigate an impersonal, automated system in hopes of getting connected with someone who might be able to help. Factor in the high probability of a poor phone connection and the language barrier between the customer and the representative. Finally, have the customer describe their problem using only words. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Enter VR to markedly improve technical issue remote troubleshooting with one of its best strengths: enabling geographically separated parties the ability to share a common, fully-immersive space. Imagine a remote technician able to see and guide a customer through the troubleshooting process as if both parties were in the same room.
With VR, a technician can see and examine a malfunctioning device from the same perspective as the customer. Troubleshooting becomes hands-on as the technician observes in real time the failures of the problematic device. He or she no longer has to rely primarily on the customer’s verbal description of the problem, which may lack significant detail or relevance, to guide the troubleshooting.
VR transforms the relationship from an aggravated phone conversation into two or more humans in the same room, an environment more conducive to empathy and understanding between the communicating parties.
Elevating Online Entertainment and Games
The online poker and casino industry has a long history of embracing exciting new technology and placing it in the customer experience. Fittingly, online casinos and virtual poker rooms are among the first wave of explorers evaluating the experiential entertainment value of VR.
The use of live streaming poker and blackjack games with human dealers is a recent development for online casino players. VR may further amplify this experience by fully immersing players in spectacular 360-degree gaming settings with all the familiar sights and sounds of a real casino. Imagine strapping on a headset and instantly transporting to a high-stakes Texas Hold ‘em game. VR gives you the sense that you’re there, palming your chips and reading the bluff on your opponent’s face.
Additionally, robotic dealers or the ability for players to sit at a high-roller table in a Las Vegas casino without leaving home may also be forthcoming in the future of online poker with VR.
VR solutions will continue to develop in service-forward industries from furniture retail to poker. These technologies are especially innovative when the customer and business are geographically separated by creating the semblance of a shared physical space. Expect specific use cases in which VR enhances or humanizes customer service to douse the fire with rocket fuel and accelerate VR growth. And while we may be in the nascent stages of hyper-real simulation technology now, it’s not too early to evaluate the benefits VR can bring to your business.