Virtual and augmented reality may be closer to widespread adoption than you initially think. Consider that many major corporations – including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Sony – already have fully functional prototypes and small batch releases in circulation. Pair that with the fact that wearables are changing the way the average consumer thinks about personal and integrated technology and it’s becoming increasingly apparent that 2016 could be the year of virtual reality technology.
Impact of Virtual Reality on Customer Service
While most of the chatter surrounding virtual reality is related to personal or business use, very few industry experts are discussing the relationship between the two. How will virtual reality have an impact on customer service in the coming years? It’s a question worthy of exploration, so let’s look at a few of the most probable ways.
- Virtual shopping. One of the few disadvantages ecommerce retailers have when compared to physical retailers is that customers aren’t able to enjoy an immersive shopping experience. Yes, they can view product images and videos, but it’s not a total substitute for in-store shopping. Virtual reality could diminish that gap between physical and online retailers by allowing businesses to offer unique virtual shopping experiences that would closely mimic an in-store shop.
- Hands-on instructions. Virtual reality could usher in a new age where customers no longer have to deal with complex and confusing instruction manuals. For companies that sell products that must be assembled by the customer, hands-on instructions could be used to simplify the process. You could also offer live instruction sessions, allowing for two-way communication.
- Virtual product testing. One of the biggest purchase barriers for any product is the fact that customers aren’t familiar with how it works, functions, or responds in various situations. It’s tough to know what a product does while looking at in a box or static image. Virtual reality technology could allow businesses to offer ‘virtual test drives.’ These interactive experiences would let customers become more familiar with the ins and outs of a product prior to making a purchase decision.
- Customer service training. As you know, training employees to be customer service reps is a challenging task. No matter how much information or training you give them, it takes a bit of on-the-job learning to master unique issues. Virtual reality could streamline this process by allowing you to immerse your employees in real-life situations before actually putting them in front of your customers. They could deal with things like greeting customers, reading body language, and dealing with angry customers. Depending on the programming, these simulated real-life experiences could help you maximize the potential of every new hire (as well as refine the skills of existing employees).
- Troubleshooting. Virtual reality could help customer service reps better handle troubleshooting, much in the same way it does with hands-on instructions. Instead of simply talking a customer through fixing a certain product or program, you could actually have the customer share what they’re seeing and doing for more accurate and precise results. This would reduce frustrations and eliminate a large portion of product returns and unnecessary refunds. Definitely a win-win situation for both the customer and the business.
Looking Towards the Future
We are only in the beginning stages of virtual reality and it’s anyone’s guess as to how it will impact various aspects of business – especially customer service. While these sound like five of the most likely outcomes, it’s possible that widespread adoption could render dozens more.
From a business point of view, the important thing is to stay current and always look for opportunities to move forward and reach customers in new and positive ways. As virtual reality technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, the businesses that adapt will likely see tremendous results.