Meet Me in VR: Exploring the “To Be” New Normal in Contact Centers

Virtual Reality in CX

Communication is about conveying the human experience – be it through the caveman’s rock painting or a blog on your favorite website. Every word or image should be able to break down the barriers between our minds and build a relationship between the creator and his audience.

But can anything really surpass the impact of the written word?
It appears AR/VR can – by combining immersive experiences and interactivity in a strikingly revolutionary way.

And no, we are not talking about another science-fiction because the technology has reached a certain level of technical maturity necessary to go from a high-tech tool to a validated communication medium. But how eager are businesses to switch to this new medium and should they even consider it in 2024? Let’s find out.

What is Virtual Reality?

VR is an advanced technology that immerses users in a lifelike and interactive computer-generated environment. Unlike traditional forms of media consumption, VR goes beyond mere visuals, engaging multiple senses such as sight, sound, and sometimes touch. Through specialized hardware like VR headsets and controllers, users can navigate and interact with this artificial environment as if they were physically present within it. 

The Rise of a New ‘Customer Service’ Reality

In recent years, businesses have come to rely on self-service tools like IVR and chatbots, as a way to avert direct interactions with their customers. But how much do customers enjoy talking to businesses? It appears, not much (speaking from personal experience!)

The modern customer has come to live in a “tele-everything” world where their relationship with technology continues to deepen with each passing day. Their over-reliance on digital social communications has created a new reality for the world of business.

The reliance is to the extent that a Gartner study predicted a fifth of all customer contacts that service teams handle will come from machine customers before 2026.

Gartner went on to say that the basic buying and selling experiences will be commoditized and businesses will differentiate based on connected customer and employee predicted experiences.

Inarguably, this transformation will be aided by technology and we are predicting that technology to be VR – creating a new field of communication, and bringing fresh strategies to the fore. This will cause the customer service strategies to be laid not only around the product and services of value but also the transactional experience itself, i.e. CX will become the core of any and every brand.

On the business side of things, what tops the priority for most contact centers is reducing agent turnover. Every time a contact center loses an agent, operational costs soar and the remaining agents struggle to keep up with the increased call volumes causing the customer satisfaction rates to drop. With VR however, businesses have found a reliable alternative to agent training while meaningfully decreasing the agent turnover.

Beyond Digital Channels: The Promise of VR in Contact Centers

Even today CX is evolving. Driven by the behaviors of younger generations, it is likely that the average customer service experience will soon exceed phone and even digital channels like chat and text. Some building blocks for this transformative experience exist today in the form of VR headsets and how can we forget the hundreds and millions of people using AR filters on social media every day?

As more and more VR equipment falls into the hands of customers, it’s natural to ask if brands can leverage VR to provide a one-of-a-kind customer experience that customers crave. Let’s explore the reality behind using VR in the contact center for delivering such customer experiences.

1. Virtual Customer Tours Instead of Waiting Music

The last thing that any customer wants to hear when calling a contact center is hours of mind-melting music and pushing twenty different numbers in the hope of connecting with the right department.

Now imagine instead, the customer would be given a virtual tour, allowing the business to showcase its product, and even a brief history of the company and its culture. This would make the waiting far more pleasant for the customer and foster a better relationship between the two parties.

2. Frontline Customer Service Training for Agents

All customers deserve quality service but they don’t always get that owing to a huge loophole in agent’s abilities to cater to their needs. Customer service training in the VR allows your agents to walk into the shoes of the customers, thus preparing them better to serve customers. With the VR headset, agents can practice conversing with customers just as they would in real life, in a store or a call center.

While AI technologies can be used to create personalized and adaptive gamification experiences for individual agents, their integration with VR can improve the training process, giving them the ability to gain hand-on-experience and refine their customer service skills in a controlled and engaging environment. They can become adept in various customer service processes, and learn how to handle different customer scenarios, thus improving the customer service outcomes at scale.

💡 Read More | Reasons Why Gamification is a Necessity in Contact Centers 

3. Unprecedented Personalization

The customer service world has functioned singularly till now – service providers have delivered services and customers have been at the receiving end. But VR sets out to change this. It offers an opportunity for customers to engage with a brand in a unique way by encouraging them to participate in the creation of their experience. A recent example of this is McDonald’s asking children to create their own set of AR glasses to watch interactive stories on their “Happy Meal” app. This creative application could even capture the attention of the toughest audience to engage – children!

4. De-escalate Difficult Customers with Emotional Resonance

Frustrated customers are a difficult but everyday part of customer service. While employee training can help deal with these customers, VR can take you many notches higher. It can prepare your employees to better understand, manage, and de-escalate angry customers. By being able to understand the customer’s issue from their perspective, not just through videos or texts, allows them to sincerely reach out with better assistance.

VR medium has the power to elicit an emotional response from the customer that a webpage or social media can’t hope to match. The technology allows customers to interact with your brand as active participants, allowing your brand to create unique and memorable experiences at every touchpoint.

But, Live Agent STILL Remains the Backbone

The possibilities presented by AR/VR technology in contact centers are revolutionary but it’s crucial to recognize that technology only complements and not replaces the essential human touch. Live agents’ empathetic understanding of customers and their nuanced understanding of machines cannot be replicated. AR/ VR can enhance interactions but not substitute them completely.

Wrap Up

The new normal for contact centers will come to be defined by technology and the integration of Virtual Reality tools holds immense promise for the industry. Businesses should carefully weigh the benefits against potential challenges before they adopt any new technology and VR is no exception to this. As ongoing trends suggest – the future of communication is immersive, interactive, and emotionally resonant – making VR a natural choice for contact center transformation.

Are You Ready to Meet Your Customers in Virtual Reality?

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