Could virtual reality bring about real customer service improvements?

News stories about virtual-reality technologies often tend to focus on gaming and entertainment applications… and there’s no question the possibilities there are very cool.

But, just as VR itself is in its earliest stages of development, so too is innovation in what VR can be used for. Other areas ripe for exploration include military training and medical education.

It’s been more than a year since Microsoft first unveiled its HoloLens technology for holographic computing at its Build 2015 developers conference, and we’ve seen a few hints for its promise beyond fun and games. A firm called Trimble Architecture has demonstrated how the platform can let building designers all but bring their creations “to life” through holographic imagery, and Volvo has since begun working with Microsoft to test “mixed-reality” car-shopping experiences for its customers.

There’s a growing recognition that VR has great potential for many other applications as well. The UK-based learning provider Kallidus, for example, envisions using such technology for immersive learning that could benefit people in a wide variety of ways.

“Whilst the legacy use of VR in our field has been firmly positioned in the areas of military, medical and technical skills training (making training that would otherwise be impossible or difficult to stage, possible), L&D [learning and development] professionals are thinking far beyond those areas, opening up the potential to use VR to support interpersonal skills, operational skills, onboarding and orientation, leadership development and customer service and sales,” the company noted in a recent blog post. “For example, providers are already working on VR solutions for diversity awareness and presentation skills training.”

In fact, in a survey conducted by Kallidus this year, 35 percent of respondents said they believed VR had real potential for improving customer service and sales.

Besides Volvo, other organizations exploring the potential for VR-based training or service include Aviva, BMW Group and Singapore Airlines.

With VR, Kallidus said, “With employee engagement remaining at the top of the agenda, it’s exciting that L&D can play a role here in increasing participation.”


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