Fidelity tests virtual reality for customer service training

By Anna Irrera

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fidelity Investments is testing virtual reality technology to train customer service representatives in its call centers across the United States.

The company’s innovation unit Fidelity Labs said in a blog post on Friday that it had developed and tested a virtual reality prototype to train employees on how to handle incoming customer calls.

By using virtual reality, the company hopes to make it easier for employees to empathize with customers, Adam Schouela, vice president at Fidelity Labs, said in an interview.

While virtual reality has been used for decades for training programs in other sectors, Fidelity said it is the first company in financial services to use the technology for that purpose.

Large technology companies including Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook are investing in virtual reality, making the technology more easily accessible by consumers and developers.

The Fidelity prototype, which was built on the Google VR headset, simulates a scenario in which the customer representative is at a desk in the company’s call center in New Hampshire. The representative is prompted to handle a call from a distressed client who needs to withdraw money from her account.

During the call the client is shown in her kitchen surrounded by bills. The technology’s ability to immerse the user into a realistic scenario, makes it well suited for “empathy training”, said Schouela.

The results of the tests will be assessed to determine whether to proceed with the project, Schouela said.

(Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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