In the modern business world, keeping up to date with new technologies and processes is vital to success. Remember when that internet thing was labeled by some as merely a “fad”, set to die off in a few years? Well, two of the latest “fad” innovations that are starting to pick up more traction in the customer service industry is virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Once considered fun technology focused on games and recreation, companies are now keeping a close eye on VR and AR as actual workplace uses begin to come to fruition. Businesses now leverage these innovations to improve upon dated processes and simplify them. So, how can the customer service industry benefit from these technologies? Here’s a few ways that stand out…

Customers can use VR and AR as another way to self-serve – It’s no secret that self-service solutions, including online portals, now dominate B2C customer service and are becoming more common in B2B as well. As more customers get used to solving their own business-related problems without reaching out to an actual person, VR and AR can be another step to improve upon the resolution process. In fact, AR in particular has strong applications in this area where customers can use the camera on their phone or tablet device to see an additional “layer” over a product they are having trouble assembling. The AR technology can identify all the parts seen by the camera, including small items such as bolts or screws, to improve the assembly experience.

Agents will offer better service by being able to “show” more often instead of just telling – While this tactic is already becoming more common with screen sharing and video chat in B2B customer service, VR and AR will take it to the next level. For example, a safety specialist can use VR to see exactly what an environment that meets safety codes looks like so they can replicate what they see. During these experiences, agents will often be “coaches” with this technology, instructing customers where to look to see problems and offering suggestions on how to fix them. This evolves the agent-customer roles, turning the agent into a guide and advisor that builds trust with customers faster than other service methods. It’s truly a shift in customer service strategy.

Training for customer service employees will improve with VR and AR – Think about how B2B customer service training exists today. Usually agents all gather in a room and are shown a presentation on how to imagine themselves in the customer’s shoes. Especially with VR, agents can put themselves directly in the role or scenario of the customer without the need for big travel budgets. This technology immediately provides agents with a better understanding of what the customer is going through, increasing their empathy and enabling them to suggest better solutions to their issues.

To summarize, the effect VR and AR will have on B2B customer service will be two-fold. First, it will enable customers to educate themselves about your company and solve their own problems better than ever before. Second, it will redefine how agents understand customers and their role when it comes to working directly with them every day. VR and AR are both interesting technologies worth keeping an eye on in the customer service industry because their potential uses can have a profound effect on both satisfaction rates and retention.