An amateur pilot is coming in for a landing at an unfamiliar airstrip. There are pretty heavy crosswinds, and they can feel their small plane being buffeted back and forth. The yoke is shaking in their hands as they struggle to land just right. The landing strip gets closer and closer. The tension rises. Wheels hit the pavement, and… nothing happens.
It’s just a simulation. It’s immersive training. The pilot is in a room on the ground. They were never in any danger.
Immersive training is a way to mimic nearly exact real-world conditions without incurring any real-world risk. Obviously, not every scenario is as intense as landing an airplane, but immersive learning is no less vital for other industries.
Customer service and other customer-facing roles benefit greatly from immersive learning. Because the role presents so many challenges and so much human variety, being able to learn how to handle a variety of situations can be crucial for success. Immersing agents in situations where they can learn and grow gives them the confidence to perform in real life.
The Challenges of Real-World Training for Customer-Facing Roles
There are a lot of roles where the “trainee” badge is no cause for alarm. People at a grocery store understand that a cashier needs training, and there’s usually only a slight delay. No one has much of an issue when the new person at work asks for help on tasks that you already know by heart.
But when people are calling customer service, or are being called about collections, talking to someone who is struggling adds to a stressful situation. They want their problem solved, and if the person on the other end of the line can’t solve it, it can quickly escalate tensions.
That’s a problem for the customer, which can impact your CSAT scores. It can hurt your reputation through word of mouth and decrease customer loyalty. You want to be able to solve problems quickly, and having a trainee deal with a real-life customer can hurt that.
Not only that, but real-world situations, where there’s no net, are extremely stressful for the agent. They want to perform. They want to help. And they really, really don’t want the person on the other end of the line to be mad at them. That is no good.
Customer service representatives have one of the highest attrition rates of any industry. Increasing their stress in high-risk situations only increases attrition.
Why It Is Hard To Train For Real World Situations
Imagine you sell a product, a widget of sorts, that has 10 parts. If someone calls, they could have a problem with any one of those parts. You probably have a script for that. And they might have a problem with two of the parts, and you may have a script for that.
But what if they broke three of the parts?
What if two of them are working in reverse?
What if they dropped it in water and dried it on the radiator, which they really, really shouldn’t have done?
The point is there are a million things that can happen in any customer service situation, and it is impossible to prepare for all of them. What you need to do is prepare the agent to improve their problem-solving skills (which is one of the major soft skills). And you do that by giving them as many training simulations as possible.
Traditionally, this kind of training is done with a manager or more experienced rep playing the role of the customer. Of course, they have other work to do, which limits their ability to really take the time to train up. And training up is crucial.
So the question is, how do you create real-world situations with enough repetition to have an impact? Immersive training.
Understanding Immersive Learning
In the scenario that opened this piece, we talked about a flight simulator. That’s probably the kind of immersive learning that people are most familiar with. They’ve been around for a long time, and keep getting more sophisticated. But those are far from the only use cases.
Immersive training, at its heart, helps learners practice high-stakes procedures and processes until they can get it right, with little cost and essentially zero risk. This is why it is so popular in extremely high-stakes fields. Immersive learning is becoming an essential tool for fields such as surgery, logistics, and especially in the military.
Many of these involve augmented reality. The surgery or airline simulations are essentially augmented – you can feel the wind, and the shaking yoke. You have all sorts of information in your vision. There are a lot of exciting avenues to augmented reality.
There are also important uses for virtual reality, which can be different than augmented reality. Virtual reality doesn’t have to be in a completely different world. It doesn’t even have to be done with an Oculus.
Virtual reality is simply a way to completely mimic a real situation. Immersive learning puts someone in the hot seat without any real risk.
How Virtual Reality Immersive Training Benefits Customer Service Agents
The human brain is an interesting thing. A recent study on how the brain responds to virtual reality confirms its efficacy in training.
VR shares with the brain the same basic mechanism: embodied simulations. According to neuroscience, to regulate and control the body in the world effectively, the brain creates an embodied simulation of the body in the world used to represent and predict actions, concepts, and emotions.
What does this mean? It means that even if the trainee knows that they are in a simulation, their brain doesn’t. Or, rather, the brain treats it the same, opening the same neural pathways for memory that “real” experiences provide.
This is great for customer service. An AI coaching simulator that can accurately mimic real-world situations, with an ability to come up with responses that match the responses of the agents, creates genuine real-world scenarios.
This is different than sitting in a room with someone pretending to be a customer. With this VR-style immersive training from an AI coaching platform, the agent is on their phone. They are speaking to a voice that isn’t someone they know, that isn’t in the room with them, and, for all intents and purposes, is essentially a customer.
The AI coaching platform being essentially a customer creates those neural pathways that foster true training. And it can do so over and over, in a lot of different situations that give your trainee the ability to learn how to think on their feet. One of the best parts? You don’t need to use the time of your managers to facilitate training.
The AI coaching platform from Zenarate goes a step further – it gives grades, with metrics on everything from time on call to practicing empathy. That way, managers can step in and offer personalized guidance for areas of struggle.
Agents are ready to go into real calls more quickly and with more confidence. And agents can continue to be trained throughout their careers, becoming top performers.
It is immersive learning. It is virtual reality. And it helps agents perform in the real world, improving their performance and increasing morale. That’s one way to stick the landing.
Contact us today to schedule a demo to learn more about how you can incorporate Zenarate AI Simulation Training into your agent training program. We will answer your questions and show you how you can help your organization develop confidently prepared agents while delivering exceptional experiences to the ones that matter most – your customers.
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