Over the past two years, corporations have been building and implementing virtual reality (VR) training solutions and, by doing so, transforming the way people learn. In that short time, immersive technology like VR has grown by leaps and bounds, but the foundation of training with VR has stayed the same: Enhance and improve the way people learn through experiences. It’s a new technology applied to core learning principles, and the result is a more impactful way to learn.

VR may seem like a big departure from traditional learning due to the technology involved. However, there are more similarities than one might think. In fact, VR is a better way to leverage accepted learning principles by, for example, providing the personalized curriculum and insights needed to meet every learner’s needs. It can fit into the learning programs of a wide array of companies across numerous industries. Here are two recent business challenges for which VR has been used to implement a groundbreaking solution.

1. Customer Service

In customer service, the gap between the training classroom and the job is wide. On the call center floor, that distance is compounded when you’re serving customers who have recently undergone a family tragedy, natural disaster or other hardship. Immersive training allows front-line employees like call center reps to experience and navigate these difficult interactions in a consequence-free environment. The increased repetition enabled by VR creates confidence and comfort when employees are faced with a difficult situation in a live call. What’s more, VR provides organizations the ability to track and analyze a user’s decisions in order to create a detailed picture of how they are navigating the situation – something that is nearly impossible with traditional training methods.

With VR, customer service employees can actually experience the impact of the decisions they make throughout the customer interaction by stepping into the world of the customer. On the job, a failure to understand a customer’s needs or empathize with his or her situation can negatively impact that customer’s daily life and perception of the company. VR training gives learners the ability to step into the shoes of the customer and see, hear and feel the impact of their actions, leading to more empathetic and thoughtful employees and better customer service. In fact, we have found who reps that train using VR have improved their customer satisfaction scores by as much as 25 percent. These data suggest that the opportunity to build empathy through VR has a significant positive impact on customer service rep performance.

2. Manufacturing

Manufacturing or assembly line training was one of the earliest use cases for VR and continues to be a popular one. This training involves process-focused core competencies, and employees perform intricate tasks in a chaotic and potentially dangerous environment. The stakes are high, the margin for error is slim and there isn’t a great method to train other than being on the job.

The key in manufacturing training is to create an authentic learning experience with context where learners are prompted to perform their jobs with all the stressors and chaos they will experience on the job, but in a consequence-free environment. The additional repetitions provided with VR are invaluable, and, more importantly, through adaptive learning, you can identify gaps and hone in on exactly when, where and why employees are making mistakes. Traditionally, training managers have identified these gaps through guesswork and have had to rely on observation. With VR and adaptive learning, the insights are exact, and prescriptive learning recommendations help fill those gaps and improve performance.

Aside from being a more engaging and fun learning experience, VR provides a training solution aimed at improving employees’ safety and well-being. Often, learners are unable to practice (or have repeated practice) in the real-life work environment. VR allows workers to repeatedly train in the exact environment they will be working in without risk of injury. In addition, the immersive, realistic environment of VR has revealed that employees know 20 percent less than what their paper assessments might let on. This insight helps training professionals better understand who is actually ready to work on the floor, diminishing the likelihood of a crucial error.

These are just two examples of countless use cases for VR training, all of support the transformation of how organizations train and people learn. As is the case with any transformational tool, an investment is required, but that commitment can pay big dividends when VR is implemented correctly.

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