Fidelity is using virtual reality to transport staff into the homes of fictional customers so that they can see the impact of their responses to queries both during and after a simulated telephone call.
The virtual environment has been created in association with Strivr, an immersive training company, to conduct 'empathy training' with Fidelity associates that handle incoming customer calls.
Using Fidelity Labs’ newest VR prototype built on the Google Daydream headset, staff are transported from their desk into the kitchen of a Fidelity customer’s home. Looking out from within the headset, they can observe customers and their facial expressions as they try to solve their queries. When the call is finished, they are able to stay in situ and see what happened immediately following the chat.
In one scenario the customer calls her adult daughter, who is either happy to hear the outcome of her mother’s call, or is upset that Fidelity didn’t provide certain options. The trainee is able to guage the impact of the help he provided and observe the feelings that are created as a result. Back at his desk, he is able to assess and re-evaluate certain steps he made in the conversation.
Adam Schouela of FidelityLabs says the prototype has been road-tested with a number of Fidelity teams.
"We heard from some that they were quickly reminded there are always real people on the other side, facing real challenges," he says. "Emotion is often a big factor in these conversations. Navigating the complex array of decisions and potential money moves requires understanding not only of the different Fidelity products and services available, but also empathy for the caller’s personal situation."
This is not Fidelity's first step into the VR domain. In 2014 the company created StockCity for Oculus, combining virtual reality with data visualisation to transform an investor’s stock portfolio into a city where building size indicates volume and price data. More recently. Fidelity applied the technology to assess the impact of elements such as age, tenure and asset allocation on its workforce.
Of the empathy programme, Schouela says: "Nothing beats real experience when talking with investors, but being exposed to specific scenarios in a virtual environment, may help prepare new employees for various situations. The feedback has inspired us to keep working and refine the different types of empathy-building moments that make this sort of training so powerful."