Empathy Training in VR

The need for soft skills is becoming increasingly valued. One of these highly valued soft skills includes empathy. Empathy is required in a multitude of people-centred careers, including leadership roles, customer service positions and the healthcare industry. Empathy training in VR  over other modalities has proven to successfully raise empathy levels that are more likely to endure over time.

Empathy in VR 

Empathy can be characterized as the ability to understand and share another individual’s feelings. Proximity and shared experiences help to produce empathy in individuals. Empathy can be broken down into three types: cognitive, emotional, and compassionate empathy. 

Cognitive empathy is when we understand what someone is going through after being told about a situation, but do not feel the feelings ourselves. Emotional empathy includes more than just knowing what someone feelings, but feeling what someone feels. Finally, compassionate empathy is when we understand, feel, and then are moved to act differently because of it. 

With the ability to experience another person’s reality, individuals are able to build trust, respect, and understanding. These skills are extremely important when interacting and connecting with others.

Because virtual reality puts us into a world outside of our own, we are able to experience what it is like to live in a different situation. This allows us to see the world through another individual’s eyes as these simulations offer a sense of emotional realism. 

With other modalities, such as reading stories or watching videos, may trigger emotional reactions, they struggle to help us reach the level of compassionate empathy we require to change our actions. Virtual reality allows trainees to first experience these situations and then practice how we would react on the other end. They are able to see the consequences of successes or errors in the virtual world prior to performing them in the real world.

Use Cases for Empathy Training in VR

Empathy training in VR is useful amongst a number of use cases, such as de-escalation, simulating bias, or customer service. Trainees are able to step in the shoes of another individual in the business setting, developing a sense of understanding of the other point of view.

Leading hotel chain, Hilton, deployed a VR training program that shows a prime example of the success VR training can bring to training empathy. The program is two-fold, with both the leadership team and the front of house team going through the program. 

Hilton’s leadership team creates procedures for those on the frontlines of the hotel – such as the processes for housekeeping staff or the policies for customer service representatives. Much of the leadership team has little to no experience working in these positions, and therefore realized the opportunity to place themselves in these situations through VR. This allowed them to see whether the policies they were placing were reasonable and did not make the job of those actually performing the tasks more difficult.

The training was also implemented to the front of house team, as Hilton realized the importance of empathy when providing exceptional service to their guests. This included training for front desk, room set-up, and room service to name a few. Employees went through frustrating guest scenarios, such as when a meeting room is set up incorrectly or when a digital key is non functioning. This improved understanding of employees for unhappy guests, allowing them to better help service them when these issues arise. 

Training time for Hilton was cut from 4 hours to 20 minutes, saving not only time but also money. 87% of team members adjusted their behaviour when faced with these situations in the future, proving the strength of VR as a training modality for this soft skill.

H&R Block, a global tax preparation firm, is another organization to successfully implement empathy training in VR. Call-centre employees felt unprepared when on the job after regular training, but were expected to remain calm when dealing with frustrated customers during tax season. VR training was introduced to help develop active listening, problem resolution, and empathy. As a result, customer dissatisfaction dropped by 50%, customer handling times fell by 9.9%, and issue resolution became quicker. 

The Motive VR Training Platform for Empathy Training in VR

The training scenarios created with the Motive VR Training Platform are computer-generated as opposed to 360 video, meaning trainees are able to go through a full scenario and choose their own paths rather than watching a scenario play out in front of them. This gives trainees the opportunity to practice processes and procedures, such as interacting with individuals in the virtual world, enabling the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them.

Difficult conversations require empathy – practice them in VR.

The platform utilizes speech recognition and conversational AI, allowing your employees to practice their empathy skills beyond simply clicking an option in a list to progress in their training session. Using their voices in a natural way of conversing allows trainees to feel fully immersed in their training experience. Scenarios can progress without point-and-click input.

The Motive VR Training Platform revolutionizes VR training to increase efficiency in your VR training program, enabling a stronger, more confident workforce. The platform provides your learning and development team with the tools they need to effectively create and edit your VR training program while providing the best possible training for your employees.

Are you considering VR training but would like to see more proof of its benefits?
Download our white paper: The Case for Immersive Training.

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Eliza Vagner

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